STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — Finding motivation last week couldn’t have been easier for Oregon after all the pregame trash talking, logo stomping and hype that fueled the Ducks’ showdown against Colorado.
The ninth-ranked Ducks (4-0, 1-0 Pac-12) used that to roll to a decisive victory over the Buffaloes but know they will need to dig deeper when they visit struggling Stanford (1-3, 0-2) in a considerably lower-profile game on Saturday.
“This is a bring-your-own juice game,” coach Dan Lanning said. “It’s going to be a different atmosphere. But if you step on the grass and it means something to you, you’re going to step on there and try to perform to a certain level because you have pride in the game.”
Oregon doesn’t have to look back too far to find out what can happen if intensity is lacking in any way. Two years ago, the Ducks came to Stanford with a 4-0 record and a No. 3 national ranking to face an unranked team off to a sluggish start and lost 31-24.
Lanning wasn’t the coach at the time but he reiterated that sentiment this week and also pointed to Oregon’s first road game of the season when the Ducks came out flat and struggled in a 38-30 win at Texas Tech.
“It’s no secret and our guys know that right? You certainly point it out,” he said.” There’s a lot of pieces that can feed into distractions and not playing to your best. And like I said, all you have to do is point to this season, when we went down to Texas Tech we didn’t feel like we performed our best. So we’re going on the road and it’s an opportunity for us to prove that we can.”
This game starts a tough stretch for the Cardinal, who face seven teams that have been ranked at some point this season in their final eight games.
Ducks quarterback Bo Nix is off to a sizzling start this season. He completed his first 11 passes last week against Colorado and is second in the nation completing 79.4% on the season.
Nix has thrown 11 TDs and run for one, while throwing only one INT. Nix is responsible for 56 career TDs passing and rushing at Oregon after having 57 at Auburn. He’s the first player with at least 55 at multiple schools in FBS history.
“Bo’s done everything he possibly can to be a great teammate, a great player for Oregon and he shows that every single day in the way he approaches everything that he does,” Lanning said.
The Cardinal have much more uncertainty at quarterback, shuffling between Ashton Daniels and Justin Lamson. Daniels started the first three games with Lamson mixing in in losses against Southern California and Sacramento State. The roles reversed last week in a loss to Arizona, when Lamson was used as the runner and Daniels replaced him in passing situations.
“Until somebody emerges, I’ll probably play both of them,” coach Troy Taylor said.
The Ducks will need to find a replacement for key running back Noah Whittington, who injured his left leg last week and will be unavailable. Whittington was averaging 7.3 yards per carry as the backup to Bucky Irving. Jordan James has already been part of the rotation and leads the team with six TD runs. Freshmen Jayden Limar and Dante Dowdell also could get a bigger opportunity this week.
“We’re going to miss Noah,” Lanning said. “You don’t just replacing Noah with a player and especially his demeanor and his work ethic. But we’ve got some great backs in that room that are ready to fill those shoes.”
JUST FOR KICKS
Stanford kicker Joshua Karty’s impressive streak finally came to an end last week. Karty had made all 18 field goal attempts last season and his first eight this season before his streak of 26 in a row was snapped. Karty missed a pair of 51-yarders last week against Arizona.