For the second straight year, Stanford dominated Oregon at the line of scrimmage on its way to a stunning upset of the BCS-minded Ducks. Oregon made some big special teams plays to give Stanford a late scare, but the Cardinal hung on for the 26-20 win. Stanford now has a chance to work its way into the national championship picture and controls its own destiny in the Pac-12 North.
Stanford slowed down the Oregon offense by dominating time of possession and forcing three turnovers (two fumbles and one on downs). Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan wasn't asked to do much (he attempted just 13 passes), but not much was required of him, as Stanford was content to use Tyler Gaffney as their workhorse on 45 carries and shortened the game by running the ball 66 times overall.
Stanford was set to put the game out of reach with a 40-yard field goal attempt that would have pushed the lead to 26-9, but the kick was blocked and Oregon's Rodney Hardrick returned it 65 yards for a touchdown. The Ducks recovered an onside kick and tacked on a touchdown to make it interesting in the final moments, but they couldn't recover a second kick. From there, Stanford was able to run out the clock.
Box Score Hero: Tyler Gaffney didn't have an explosive performance (3.7 yards per carry), but he was able to consistently pick up 3 to 4 yards at a time, good enough to keep Stanford on schedule on several long drives that drained the clock and kept Oregon off the field. So good was Gaffney, that Stanford offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren leaned on him for 45 carries, 157 yards, and a touchdown.
Rankings Ramifications: Without the benefit of knowing what the other top 15 will do this weekend, it's impossible to know with any certainty how far Oregon will fall. But the Ducks shouldn't be punished too severely for losing to a top 5 team, and they stand a good chance of remaining in the top 10.
Stanford came in to this game ranked 5th in the BCS and is only guaranteed of moving ahead of Oregon. Beyond that, the Cardinal will need No. 1 Alabama (vs. LSU) or No. 2 Florida State (at Wake Forest) to lose on Saturday if they are going to move up any further.
But Did They Cover? Oregon was favored 10 or 10.5, depending on which oddsmaker you prefer. The Ducks most definitely did not cover.
For More On This Game: For more on Ducks football, visit Oregon community Addicted To Quack, plus Pac-12 community Pacific Takes. For more on Cardinal football, visit Stanford community Rule Of Tree and SB Nation Bay Area.
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