Surely the Oregon Ducks were on the high wave of emotion after beating USC last weekend. They controlled their own destiny in their march to the Rose Bowl.
Then they traveled to Palo Alto and faced a Stanford Cardinal team that punched them right in the gut. Stanford flat-out bullied Oregon up and down the field on their way to winning 51-42.
Toby Gerhart set a Stanford single-game rushing record with 223 yards. He also pounded out three touchdowns.
Andrew Luck was lights out, throwing for 251 yards and two touchdowns on a 12-of-20 day. Luck picked apart the Ducks’ secondary, threading many passes in tight coverage.
For much of the season it has been Oregon’s special teams and defense that put them in control of many games. Against Stanford it was just the opposite—the Ducks defense just could not find an answer for stopping Luck, Gerhart, and company.
The Ducks offense looked out of sync for much of the game but really started to put it all together late. That was almost bad news for the Cardinal, as the Ducks pulled to within 13 points with just over eight minutes left in the fourth quarter—plenty of time for Jeremiah Masoli to orchestrate the high-powered offensive attack.
After the Cardinal bled off some clock and missed a late field goal, the Ducks wasted no time flying downfield. D.J. Davis caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Masoli, and the extra point pulled Oregon to within six points.
Two minutes and 38 seconds left. Do you kick the ball away for the kickoff or try the onside kick? Chip Kelly went for option two—and it wasn’t pretty. The ball didn’t even travel the required 10 yards, and Stanford recovered at the Oregon 38-yard line.
Three Gerhart rushes later, and it looked as though Oregon’s defense might have given their offense a shot for the win.
But instead of safely punting away with 15 seconds left, Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh pulled a dagger out of its sheath. With a Nate Whitaker 48-yard field goal, he stuck that dagger right into the heart of every Ducks coach, player, and fan.
For Oregon, Masoli completed 21 of 37 for 335 yards and three touchdowns. He also rushed for 55 yards. LaMichael James added 125 yards, including a 60-yard touchdown run.
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