The matchup between Oregon and Stanford the past three seasons has been billed as the biggest game of the year on the West Coast, a de facto Pac-12 title game and national semifinal.

What it also has been is a spoiler.

In each of the past three years, the loser was handed its only regular-season defeat and would've surely played in the BCS championship game otherwise. The winner went on to claim the Pac-12 title.

The stakes are just as high this season. The stage is even bigger. When No. 2 Oregon (8-0, 5-0) visits sixth-ranked Stanford (7-1, 5-1) in prime time Thursday night, one team will announce itself as the best in the west and the other will watch its championship dreams wither away again.