Stanford finds way into driver's seat

November, 8, 2013
11/08/13
3:59
AM ET

STANFORD, Calif. -- The Stanford offense at its best is as exciting as a school board meeting. The Cardinal moves the chains, and moves the chains again. The clock ticks and all 11 guys line up in the box and even coach David Shaw's 3-year-old son Gavin knows that Kevin Hogan is going to hand the ball off to Tyler Gaffney. And the chains move again.

That's what Shaw's No. 5 Cardinal did Thursday night, and the only thing that made it spellbinding was the identity of the team that took the punishment. No. 3 Oregon spent the first eight games of the season reserving hotel rooms in Pasadena for Jan. 6, the date of the BCS Championship Game. But for the second consecutive season, the Ducks' hopes of an unbeaten record ended against the Cardinal.

Stanford spent the first three-plus quarters churning out a 26-0 lead, then hung on when the inevitable Oregon rally, late though it may have been, arrived fueled by the fury of the embarrassed. The final score of 26-20 is a tribute to the Ducks' competitive fire and their special teams, which, in the final 5:08, scored one touchdown on a blocked field goal and set up another by recovering an onside kick. But the final score is not an accurate depiction of the one-sided nature of the Cardinal's victory.

With All-American guard David Yankey pulling from left guard and mowing down Ducks to his right, Gaffney, the senior tailback, set a school record with 45 carries for 157 yards and a touchdown. Among those 45 carries, Gaffney had exactly one run of more than nine yards and exactly one rush that went backward -- for one yard.

"They did a great job of just grinding it and grinding it and grinding it," Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.

To read the complete column, click here.

Ivan Maisel | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

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