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Head coach Mark Helfrich, who comes out guns blazing, wants to run a play every 22 seconds. That can cause oxygen deficit in a defense, exactly what the Ducks aim for. Oregon wants to set up fast at the line of scrimmage, too fast for the defense to substitute, too fast for the defense to get a blow.

Oregon spreads the field from boundary to boundary, spreads its backs, spreads its receivers — just plain stretches a defense horizontally, creating one-on-one matchups, creating coverage nightmares.

And if Oregon scores early, it smells blood and then it increases its speed even more, getting the plays in faster in the middle of a series. After a first down, it will run the next play bang, just like that. A defense has to make the right calls on the fly and a defense has to hang in there. In the second half, conditioning becomes a factor. Stanford is a well-conditioned team.

Gee, I'm getting light-headed just writing about the Ducks' super-amped offense.

Stanford doesn't do any of that. It does the opposite. Stanford likes to play offense in a phone booth. That was merely a metaphor because there aren't phone booths anymore. But you get the point. Stanford likes to play in a confined space. Stanford likes — loves — big tough offensive linemen and big tough tight ends. Often, these players are called "ogre personnel," and this whole deal is a carryover from the Jim Harbaugh days at Stanford. (I once asked Harbaugh if he knew where the library is on campus. Indignant, he said, "Of course, I know where the library is.")

While Oregon likes speed quickness and, yes, finesse, Stanford wants size and mass, wants to pound and grind a defense. How does Stanford pound and grind? That's easy — with the running game, and then the running game, hopefully, leads to play-action passes. You see the same offensive equation on Sundays with the 49ers.

Stanford coach David Shaw doesn't want to rush the clock — perhaps you could say he doesn't want to squander the clock. He wants to control the clock, own the clock, especially in tonight's game to keep the Oregon offense on the bench where it can't do damage.

Stanford does not have an electric offense. It is methodical. Methodical can be good, but it has a potential downside. Methodical offenses do not play as well from behind, are not constructed to come back from a deficit, are not particularly explosive. The whole idea of a methodical offense is to assert its will, make the opponent play according to its agenda. And that's what Stanford tries to do, and needs to do tonight.

Stanford's defensive coordinator Derek Mason ("The Willie Shaw Director of Defense") must be feeling the pressure right now. He has to be so conscious of defensive assignments mostly because of Ducks quarterback Marcus Mariota, who can kill a defense all by himself. He a proficient passer and, man, he can run — averages more than 9 yards a carry. He is a definite pro prospect.

Mason needs to contain Mariota, the runner, the way NFL defenses try to control Colin Kaepernick the runner. Good luck. The Ducks have a workhorse running back in Byron Marshall and an electrifying back in De'Anthony Thomas, known as Black Mamba, who is not always healthy. If these two runners get going, forget it.

Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan runs a little, but mostly he's a pro-style quarterback, a very good pro-style quarterback, just as Andrew Luck was and is. You imagine Hogan watches film of Luck — he would be nuts not to. Tyler Gaffney is a tough running back, the kind of back who punches it inside and bangs you and then bangs you again.

Stanford is more physical at quarterback and running back than Oregon, wants to wear down an opponent, hurt an opponent. This hurt shows in the second half.

Both teams are terrific at what they do. If Stanford can run successful power plays again and again, Oregon will have trouble. If Oregon can create a fast tempo and if the Stanford defenders cannot be as fast as the Oregon offensive players, the Cardinal will have trouble.

And each team faces an even higher degree of difficulty. The Oregon defense practices against its own fast offense, and that means it's not used to Stanford's power. The Stanford defense practices against Stanford's methodical offense and has little experience with Oregon's speed.

As I say, these are two opposing philosophies, two valid philosophies in direct conflict. I predict method beats speed tonight. I hope I'm right. Aristotle and Plato, two of my favorite philosophers, keep track of my football predictions and mark me down when I'm wrong.

For more on the world of sports in general and the Bay Area in particular, go to the Cohn Zohn at cohn.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. You can reach Staff Columnist Lowell Cohn at lowell.cohn@pressdemocrat.com.