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Thursday night games to watch

Oregon running back Byron Marshall, right, celebrates his

Oregon running back Byron Marshall, right, celebrates his touchdown with teammates Daryle Hawkins (16) and quarterback Marcus Mariota (8) during the second half of an NCAA college football game against UCLA in Eugene, Ore., Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013. Marshall ran for 133 yards and three touchdowns for a 42-14 victory. (AP Photo/Don Ryan) Credit: AP Photo Don Ryan

No. 3 Oregon (8-0, 5-0 PAC-12) @ No. 5 Stanford (7-1, 5-1), 9:00 pm: Is this game of the century? Probably not. But this contest will go a long way in possibly determining who will play for the national championship. And you can bet Florida State, Ohio State and even Baylor (if they win tonight) will be rooting for Stanford. The Cardinal has a tall order tonight. Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota (2,281 yards, 20 TDs, 0 INT) is the epitome of what it means to be explosive and efficient at the same. Most QBs don’t have the ability to do both. But the Ducks offense isn’t all about Mariota. Byron Marshall (879 yards, 12 TDs) has run the ball with great purpose this season and has been a brilliant compliment to Mariota.

This doesn’t mean you can count out Stanford. The Cardinal defense has been all but impenetrable the last two games. Stanford shutdown both UCLA (24-10) and Oregon State (20-12). They harassed UCLA QB Brett Hundley, who tossed two interceptions in the loss. As well as Stanford has played on defense, it still needs to score, because Oregon will find away to put points on the board. Cardinal QB Kevin Hogan completed just 8 of 18 passes for 88 yards in the win over Oregon State. Hogan is solid, but he has to prove he can get it done against the big boys.

No. 10 Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) @ No. 6 Baylor (7-0, 4-0), 7:30: This is it for Baylor. The Bears lead the nation in scoring 63.9 and are averaging 718 yards per game in total offense. But their list of opponents (Wofford, Buffalo, UL Monroe, West Virginia, Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas) leaves a lot to be desired. Their only scare was a 35-25 win at Kansas State. A win against the Sooners would keep Baylor within shouting distance off the BCS national title game. But they shouldn’t be concerned about that. The Bears need to worry about an Oklahoma offense that played arguably its best game of the season in a 38-30 win over Texas Tech on Oct. 26. Oklahoma has scored more points, but this win came against a quality team. Sooners QB Blake Bell threw for 249 yards and 2 TDs and ran for 44 yards on nine carries. Bell is nimble enough to cause problems for the Baylor front seven.

Baylor QB Bryce Petty (2,453 yards, 18 TDs, 1 INT) is about as close to Oregon’s Marcus Mariota as any signal-caller is in terms of offensive production. He doesn’t run like Mariota, but he does have six rushing TDs. But can he do it against a big time defense? If he can, the Bears will keep themselves in the national championship picture.
 

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