On a night where legendary former Stanford quarterback John Elway had his number retired, some might have forgotten that there was a midweek clash of national powers about to kick off.
Stanford will retire John Elway's No. 7 during Oregon game tonight. Simple question: what exactly took so long?— Dan Wetzel (@DanWetzel) November 7, 2013
The Oregon Ducks, ranked third in the nation, traveled to Stanford Stadium looking to avenge the 17-14 loss that they had last season to the fifth-ranked Stanford Cardinal.
Oregon's defense first in Pac-12 in turnovers and scoring. Might not be Oregon's vaunted offense that wins this game.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerCBS) November 8, 2013
Mariota is 21-1 as a collegiate starter, his lone loss coming against Stanford last year. Also the last time he threw an INT #Oregon— Dane Brugler (@dpbrugler) November 8, 2013
Stanford owned the first quarter, allowing Oregon just 57 yards. The Cardinal were able to get on the scoreboard first when running back Tyler Gaffney rushed into the end zone from two yards out with just over two minutes remaining in the quarter.
Nice little 95-yard touchdown drive there for Stanford. Absolutely dominating the line of scrimmage. Oregon in for it tonight, folks.— Dan Wolken (@DanWolken) November 8, 2013
In three drives, Stanford already has more total yards (vs. Oregon) than Oklahoma had in the entire first half (vs. Baylor).— Numbers Never Lie (@ESPN_Numbers) November 8, 2013
The second quarter nearly mirrored the first quarter, as the Cardinal were able to take a 17-0 lead into halftime. Stanford scored its second touchdown of the half when Kevin Hogan had an 11-yard touchdown rush nearly four minutes into the quarter. Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson also added a 19-yard field goal as the first-half clock expired.
Oregon's worst scoring output this year is 42. Even if officials call this a fumble, Ducks have plenty of time to comeback.— Pete Thamel (@SIPeteThamel) November 8, 2013
The last time Oregon was shut out in a first half -- Oct. 10, 2009 vs UCLA (trailed 3-0 at half. Won game 24-10)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 8, 2013
The third quarter went nearly the same way as the previous two. Stanford scored with a pair of field goals from Williamson (34, 26) to enter the final quarter with a 23-0 lead.
With Oregon trailing, Alabama and FSU are the only teams this season that has yet to trail in the 2nd half. #UOvsSTAN— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 8, 2013
Oregon QB Marcus Mariota is 0-5 against the blitz tonight #UOvsSTAN.— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 8, 2013
The highlight of the quarter was when Oregon quarterback and Heisman front-runner Marcus Mariota was sacked, fumbled the ball and Stanford recovered at its own 28-yard line. This was Oregon’s second fumble of the game in Stanford territory.
My goodness, Mariota fumbles and looks hurt. It's probably over for Oregon.— Jason McIntyre (@jasonrmcintyre) November 8, 2013
Stanford has more rushing yards after contact (72) than Oregon has total rushing yards (50)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 8, 2013
Stanford scored on its first possession of the fourth quarter when Williamson hit his fourth field goal of the game, this time from 30 yards out.
As things looked to be over, Oregon made a late comeback attempt.
The Ducks started their drive at their own 40-yard line but quickly drove up the field. On a 2nd-and-11, Mariota was able to find Daryle Hawkins for 22 yards in the back of the end zone for Oregon’s first score of the game.
Here's something you don't write … often. Oregon scores its first touchdown with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter. 26-7 Stanford.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 8, 2013
On Stanford’s next drive, it was forced into a fourth down at the Oregon 23-yard line. The Cardinal brought Williamson out for his fifth field-goal attempt of the game, but this attempt would end up being disastrous for Stanford.
Oregon blocked the field-goal attempt, and Rodney Hardrick returned the blocked kick 65 yards for a touchdown. Oregon went for two points after the touchdown and failed. The score at that point was 26-13 Stanford.
After the touchdown, Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldonado attempted an onside kick attempt. Maldonado kicked the ball perfectly and Oregon was able to recover, although it was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.
Uh Oh. Oregon recovers the onside kick! #UOvsSTAN— College GameDay (@CollegeGameDay) November 8, 2013
After recovering the kick, Mariota drove the Ducks offense up the field quickly.
And there's the traditional "Camera doesn't know where the ball is when Oregon is on offense."— Autzen Students (@AutzenStudents) November 8, 2013
On 4th-and-goal from the Stanford 12-yard line, Mariota found Pharaoh Brown in the end zone for Mariota’s second touchdown of the game. Oregon placekicker Matt Wogan made the point-after attempt.
After trailing 26-0, Oregon had fought its way back and was now down 26-20.
Maldonado attempted another onside kick, but Stanford was able to recover. Stanford would then drain the clock and defeat Oregon for the second straight season.
SCENE FROM LAST NIGHT: Fans storm the field at Stanford Stadium after the No. 5 Cardinal beat No. 2 Oregon, 26-20. pic.twitter.com/ierGCyf3W4— NBC Sports (@NBCSports) November 8, 2013
Stanford running back Tyler Gaffney had a school-record 45 rushing attempts for 157 yards and a touchdown. Stanford's ability to pound the ball between the tackles Thursday is what ultimately led the Cardinal to the victory.
After tonight Oregon will change shirts to "we want Mississippi State" pic.twitter.com/9ECdVHYGLm— Fakier Dan Mullen (@NeckDan) November 8, 2013
For Oregon, this was a major loss for two reasons.
First, Oregon was believed to be in a battle with Florida State for the No. 2 national rank in the country. With the loss, it was virtually eliminated from the national championship picture. The team can still get into a BCS game, but with so many other undefeated teams, the Ducks likely will not receive an opportunity to win the coveted Crystal Ball Trophy in January.
Secondly, Mariota struggled for most of the game. He completed 20 of his 34 pass attempts for 250 yards and two touchdowns, though he was able maintain his streak of games without an interception, which dates all the way back to last season. But Mariota struggled in the running game, with six rushing attempts for minus-16 yards.
The loss hurts Mariota’s Heisman campaign. Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is now believed to be the favorite.
Unfortunately for Oregon this game and the way it's developed feeds the stereotype that the Ducks can't play with physical teams. #setback— Kirk Herbstreit (@KirkHerbstreit) November 8, 2013
Oregon is 54-8 since 2009. 3 of the 8 losses have come against Stanford (2009, 2012 and 2013)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) November 8, 2013
Note that Stanford has now played and beaten four ranked teams, ASU, Washington, UCLA and Oregon. But lost to 4-4 Utah.— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) November 8, 2013
For the Cardinal, the win brings them back into the national title picture, although it's a long shot that they will get a bid. They have one loss, which came to 4-4 Utah, a game in which Stanford struggled and committed a late turnover to seal the defeat. Stanford would need Alabama, Florida State, Ohio State and Baylor to lose to have any hope of a national championship berth.