Can Stanford stop the Oregon juggernaut?

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

STANFORD, Calif. -- It's a spectacular fall day at Stanford Stadium, but the recent news for the Cardinal hasn't been terribly sunny.

The loss of linebacker Clinton Snyder, a four-year starter, to a season-ending knee injury this week is not good news at any time. And too bad for Snyder who's labored away during down times and now will miss a potential bowl berth.

With Oregon coming to town, fresh off a 47-20 dismantling of USC, a big hole in the middle of the defense -- physically and emotionally -- doesn't bode well for Stanford. The Cardinal are going to need their best to slow Jeremiah Masoli, LaMichael James and the jet-fueled Ducks offense.

How the heck is Stanford going to stop these guys?

Stanford has struggled this year against fast teams. Oregon is the fastest team it has and will face. Heck, Oregon is probably as fast as any team in the nation.

Maybe Stanford's power-rushing attack plays ball-control keep-away. But can the defense, which will use fullback Owen Marecic in Snyder's stead -- yeah, he's going both ways -- force Oregon to make mistakes? The Cardinal has gathered only eight turnovers the entire season.

Oh, and that Cardinal offense is facing the Pac-10's No. 1 defense, one that's forced 20 turnovers this season.

Special teams? Both teams are outstanding on that front. And the Ducks might even be a bit better there, based on kicker Morgan Flint and a better punt return game.

It seems there's no margin for error if Stanford is going to pull the upset.

Still, there are obvious elements for an upset to take place.

  • Oregon could be flat after its celebrated, emotional win over USC.

  • Stanford could off-set Oregon's speed with its power.

  • Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck could have a monster game. Or maybe that could be running back Toby Gerhart.

  • It's hard to go unbeaten in the Pac-10. USC did it in 2004 and 2005. UCLA in 1997-98. Odds are not great Oregon won't slip again before season's end.

  • And, you know, Stanford has some history in the upset department. The Cardinal ruined the Ducks' perfect season in 2001. They also stunned a 41-point favorite a few years back, you may recall.

Still, for those of us who have watched Oregon gradually grow into the juggernaut that dominated USC last weekend, it's hard not to expect to the Ducks to emerge with a victory.