Friday, November 8, 2013
Instant analysis: Stanford 26, Oregon 20
By Kevin Gemmell
The final 10 minutes brought plenty of drama as No. 5 Stanford topped No. 3 Oregon 26-20 in Palo Alto, Calif., on Thursday night. Here’s how it all went down on The Farm:
It was over when: After being held scoreless for three quarters, the Ducks made things very, very interesting in the fourth by scoring three touchdowns in the span of eight minutes -- including one off a blocked field goal and another after they recovered an onside kick -- to cut Stanford’s lead from 26-0 to 26-20. But the Cardinal recovered another onside kick with 2 minutes, 12 seconds left to play and were able to run out the clock.
Game ball goes to: Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney, who carried a school-record 45 times for 157 yards and a touchdown.
Stat of the game: Plenty of significant ones. But the two that stand out are Stanford’s time of possession (42:34) and its advantage in rushing yards (274 to Oregon’s 62). For the first 50 minutes, it was a slow, pounding, dominant performance.
Not in the box score: Reports started circulating just before kickoff that Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota had a sprained medial collateral ligament. He was handing off on pretty much every zone read and ran only when pressured or on undesigned scrambles. He took a hit early in the third quarter that left him hobbling -- and his lack of mobility was noticeable.
What it means for Stanford: The Cardinal are at their best when it’s them versus the world -- which was the case Thursday, when they entered the game as double-digit underdogs at home. The Cardinal (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12) now control the Pac-12 North and will take the division if they win out. Stanford has two conference games remaining: at USC next week and Cal at home Nov. 23. Its season finale is a nonconference game against Notre Dame and won’t have any bearing on the conference standings, but could have huge BCS implications.
What it means for Oregon: Remember when Stanford had an Oregon problem? Seems like the Ducks (8-1, 5-1) now have a Stanford problem. Oregon should still be in the mix for a BCS bowl game if it wins out. But considering the aspirations this team had, anything less than a berth in the title game has to be viewed as a disappointment.