The marquee matchup in the Pac-12 featured a thrilling comeback victory by No. 14 Stanford as they defeated No. 11 Oregon State 27-23.
Stanford took the early advantage with two unanswered touchdowns in the first quarter, but the next 15 minutes belonged to the Beavers, and OSU closed the gap to 14-10 by halftime.
The crowd in Palo Alto stayed silent for much of the third quarter, as Oregon State kept the momentum and jumped out to a 23-14 lead. Stanford was against the ropes until star running back Stepfan Taylor took a short pass 40 yards for a touchdown to put the Cardinal just two points back as the fourth quarter started.
Kevin Hogan continued to impress in his first ever start by throwing a touchdown pass to Zach Ertz with just over five minutes remaining in the game. This proved to be the game-winning score.
Stanford Football noted that Stepfan Taylor made it nearly a full calendar year without fumbling the ball before coughing it up in this game.
The turnover proved to be a crucial one, and CSN's Ray Ratto felt that the boring start to this contest was over after the Beavers made it a close game.
Earlier suggestion that Stanford-Oregon State was losing its entertainment properties seems to have been premature— Ray Ratto (@RattoCSN) November 10, 2012
ESPN's Pac-12 Blog points out the drastic improvement made by the OSU defense and gave credit where credit was due.
Stanford first quarter against Oregon State: 14 pts, 194 yards. Since then: 0 pts, 93 yards. Tip the cap to Beavers DC Mark Banker.— ESPN_Pac12blog (@ESPN_Pac12blog) November 10, 2012
Taylor's 40-yard touchdown catch drew a significant amount of praise on Twitter, and Sports Illustrated's Stewart Mandel was especially impressed by the running back's violent stiff arm.
Stepfan Taylor just knocked a guy on his back with a stiff arm en route to a 40-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Stanford cuts to 23-21.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 10, 2012
After two impressive starts at QB for Stanford, Chris Huston started the inevitable comparison to a former Cardinal quarterback.
Kevin Hogan really is like a young Andrew Luck with fresh legs out there.— Chris Huston (@HeismanPundit) November 10, 2012
Stepfan Taylor, Stanford: A-
Taylor is the workhorse of the Stanford offense, and he was there for the Cardinal when they needed a big play. He fought for the tough yards between the tackles and also made his team's biggest play of the game.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan was under heavy pressure when he dumped the ball off to Taylor, and the running back's magnificent catch-and-run more than made up for his fumble earlier in the contest.
Storm Woods, Oregon State: B
OSU's star rusher also played the workhorse role for his team and did so effectively. He churned out 94 yards on 15 carries.
However, the difference between his performance and Taylor's is the absence of a big play. He did not score in this game, and while his performance was admirable, it was nothing special.
Kevin Hogan, Stanford: B+
Hogan was impressive both throwing and running the football in this game. While he did throw two interceptions, he also had three touchdown passes and completed 22-of-29 passes for 254 yards.
As a freshman making his first start against a nationally ranked team, mistakes were expected. But Hogan did enough to get his team a victory.
Cody Vaz, Oregon State: C
While Vaz did not throw an interception, he was still markedly less impressive than his counterpart. He went 23-of-38 with his passing attempts and had one touchdown throw.
The Beavers were unable to move the ball in the fourth quarter, and the blame for that ultimately falls on Vaz. He was under constant pressure in this game and made a crucial mistake when he fumbled deep in his own territory. That set up the Stanford drive that gave the Cardinal the lead.
Stanford Defense: A-
Stanford's defense started the game extremely well, but it trailed off in the second and third quarters, allowing OSU to score 23 unanswered points. But the unit revived itself for the fourth quarter and shut down the Beavers late in this game.
The strength of this team has been its defense, and it came through in this game for one of the Cardinal's most impressive games of the season.
Oregon State will no longer be ranked higher than Stanford in the BCS standings, and the Cardinal now have a significant amount of momentum going forward.
Next Saturday, Oregon State will host Cal while Stanford must start preparing for its showdown with No. 3 Oregon.