Here are the players to watch when No. 20 Oregon plays No. 7 Stanford.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside / Stanford WR #19 / Sr.
The 6-foot-3, 225-pound wide receiver has been the star of Stanford’s offense this season, even with Bryce Love in the backfield. Arcega-Whiteside is taller than almost every cornerback he plays, and he will be much bigger than the 5-foot-11 Thomas Graham Jr. and Deommodore Lenoir. Stanford loves to throw fades to him in the end zone where he boxes out the smaller cornerback. He did it last season against Arrion Springs on his way to scoring two touchdowns, and he will try to do it to Oregon again this season.
Johnny Johnson III / Oregon WR #3 / Soph.
Oregon has a good weapon of its own at wide receiver. Johnson III leads the team with four touchdown receptions and 134 yards. He’s not the bruising receiver like Arcega-Whiteside is, but he has been a potent deep threat for the Ducks this season. Against San Jose State, Oregon’s wide receivers had some trouble separating from Spartan defenders, leaving quarterback Justin Herbert wandering in the backfield. Stanford has a better defense than the Spartans, so it will be important for the Ducks’ receivers to return to how they performed the first two weeks.
Alijah Holder / Stanford CB #13 / R-Sr.
Holder is coming off of a leg injury that ended his 2017 season, but he is an important piece in Stanford’s pass defense. Through three games, he has shown few signs of rust. The secondary has allowed the fewest passing touchdowns in the Pac-12 while Oregon has the most passing touchdowns. Something has to give when Holder faces off against Johnson III and Dillon Mitchell, two athletic receivers.
Kaulana Apelu / Oregon ILB #39 / Jr.
Apelu is an undersized inside linebacker, but he is still second on the team in total tackles and third in tackles for loss. He is listed at 5-foot-11, 200 pounds. Against Stanford’s power run game, his smaller stature could be to his advantage. He might be able to use his quickness to get around blockers on the second level to get into the backfield. After that, he has the challenge of tackling Bryce Love, so it won’t be easy on Apelu and the other Oregon defenders.
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917