Oregon's offense has been fine, thanks to quarterback Joey Harrington. Now the defense is picking up the pace, and the Ducks hope they are rounding into championship form.
Not that No. 5 Oregon (6-0) is the only Pacific-10 Conference team in pursuit of a national championship, which would be its first and the league's first since USC won the title in 1972.
No. 4 UCLA (5-0) and No. 19 Washington State (6-0) are also in the title chase entering the weekend. Overall, there are still 11 teams without a loss as the second half of the season begins.
The Ducks, though, know their last three wins -- Utah State, Arizona and California by a combined 149-56 -- were not against top-grade competition.
That's about to change. Oregon brings its 23-game home winning streak into Saturday's game against Stanford (3-1) at Autzen Stadium. Then there's Washington State, Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon State.
"We've played well the last three weeks and come together," said Harrington, who has thrown for 1,408 yards and 13 touchdowns. "And it's time to see if we can take this into the heart of the Pac-10."
Oregon's defense had five turnovers in each of the last two games, wins over Arizona (63-28) and Cal (48-7). While the offense scores 38 points per game, the defense allows just 19.3.
The Cardinal lost to Washington State 45-39 last week.
In other Top 25 games, it's Baylor at No. 2 Oklahoma, Texas Tech at No. 3 Nebraska, California at No. 4 UCLA, No. 14 Colorado at No. 9 Texas, No. 11 Tennessee at Alabama, Duke at No. 12 Maryland, North Carolina at No. 13 Clemson, Arizona at No. 15 Washington, Vanderbilt at No. 16 South Carolina, Kentucky at No. 17 Georgia, Air Force at No. 18 BYU, Louisiana Tech at No. 20 Auburn, No. 21 Florida State at Virginia, Penn State at No. 22 Northwestern, North Carolina State at No. 23 Georgia Tech, and No. 25 Toledo at Ball State.
No. 19 Washington State beat Montana State 53-28 Thursday night, while Boise State played at No. 8 Fresno State Friday night.
No. 1 Miami, No. 6 Virginia Tech, No. 7 Florida, No. 10 Michigan and No. 24 Purdue do not play this weekend.
On Monday, the Bowl Championship Series releases its first set of standings that eventually will determine which teams play for the national title in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 3. The AP media poll and the coaches poll, eight computer rankings, strength of schedule and won-loss records are used in compiling the BCS standings.
Among one of the more intriguing matchups has Colorado (5-1) at Texas (5-1) in a Big 12 Conference game.
The surprising Buffaloes try to keep pace with Nebraska in the Big 12 North before the two meet on Nov. 23. A second league loss for the Longhorns all but knocks them out of the Big 12 title race.
Also, Penn State (0-4) is at No. 22 Northwestern as Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno tries for a fifth time to equal Bear Bryant's major college record of 323 wins.