November 17th, 2012 | by JOHN LOCANTHI News | Posted In: Sports

Almost Live: Stanford vs Oregon

Perennial also-ran takes on perennial champion for the Pac-12 North title

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Stanford has a wonderful football program. It holds its student-athletes to the same rigorous academic standards as its less athletic students. The Cardinal plays fundamentally sound, physical football. It consistently beats teams not named Oregon. Even in a season when other Pac-12 teams engage in a boorish competition to see which team can embarrass itself the most, Stanford is rock solid—mind-boggling loss to the doogs notwithstanding.

Stanford has the best defense in the Pac-12, and is the best team at stopping the run in the entire country. Statistically, this is the strongest defensive unit Oregon has faced in conference play this year. Much like it was in 2011 and 2010 (SPOILER: 53-30 Ducks and 52-31 Ducks, respectively). No one makes paper tigers like those geniuses down in Palo Alto.

The Ducks dealt Stanford its only regular-season losses in those two seasons. “We don’t have an Oregon problem. The entire conference has an Oregon problem,” says Stanford coach David Shaw, probably while staring into a mirror in some vain attempt to convince himself. Oregon has won nine of the past 10 meetings between these two programs, dating back to the Cardinal’s fluky 49-42 victory in 2001 that ultimately kept the Ducks out of the national championship game. To their credit, Stanford did hand Oregon its most recent road loss in conference play way back in 2009. So there’s always that.

In the past, Oregon’s athletes have had their way with the highly rated Stanford defenders, which has sourced a wellspring of adulation from the national press. The Cardinal defense is even better this year [Statistically-Ed.] and their offense has shown some signs of life following the cancellation of the Josh Nunes Experiment. Paul Finebaum, author of I Hate Stanford, has pegged this mighty defense to slow down the vaunted Oregon offense in his SEC echo chamber radio program. Maybe this year will be different—or, to paraphrase noted scholar Wayne Campbell, monkeys might fly out of my butt. There's a reason why Oregon is favored by three touchdowns today.




12:30
Ducks sack Stanford QB Hogan on 3rd & long after a solid series by the defense following poor coverage on the kick off. Duck ball at their own 25.
8:00
Not only did the Oregon defense absolutely stuff that last Stanford run but the Cardinal committed a personal foul. If you can't play well, might as well play dirty, I guess.
6:00
BREAKING: Marcus Mariota is really fast! Broke off a 70+ yard run right there.



4:40
Stanford's defense does a wonderful job stopping the Ducks on 4th & short there. That last dive essentially flipped the field position as Oregon drove from its own 8-yard line only to turn it over at the Cardinal 7. Not sure what happened on the second down play there as it looked like De'Anthony Thomas at least made it closer to the 1st down marker. Time for the defense to stop the Hogan-era Cardinal offense.

3:42
Is it just me or does Stanford's entire offense seem to consist of tight ends?

End of the First Quarter: Stanford 0, Oregon 0
And we're all knotted up at nothing a-piece, though Stanford had worked its way to Oregon's 16-yard line as the quarter ended. The Cardinal gameplan has focused on screens and short passes to methodically move the ball against the Oregon defense. The Ducks have had one explosive play but have otherwise done an impressive job of dicking around on offense. Lest we forget, the past two Oregon-Stanford games didn't get truly out of hand until the second half. Now, as I'm not allowed to cheer or verbally express an opinion in the press box, you'll have to excuse me:


12:39 Stanford 7, Oregon 0
Hogan dives into the end zone after Stanford drives 93 yards on approximately 5,000 plays.
Ducks get tossed back 15 yards on the kickoff due to unsportsmanlike conduct. A penalty fully endorsed by Willamette Week's live blog.

12:00
Ducks get a first down and Stanford helps out with another personal foul. The "most physical team in the Pac-12" appears to be trying to live up to that reputation with personal fouls.

10:49
There's that famed Oregon "Blur" offense again. Blink and you missed it. Punt rolled into the end zone for a touchback. Stanford's offense is grouped together in some sort of "huddle," how quaint.

10:08
Stanford QB just Cal'd it on that 2nd & 13 pass.

9:40-something
Have to give props to Stepfan Taylor of Stanford for some nice hops on that 3rd & long run. [Which was short-Ed.]
9:06
Colt "Bane" Lyerla just ran over a Stanford defender.

 7:04

A promising drive goes nowhere as Mariota Cal's it himself by throwing a jump ball where only Lyerla—if he were 10 feet taller—could have caught it on 4th & 4. Cardinal ball.


6:21

Ducks just nailed Hogan on that 2nd & long pass attempt, which if I'm not mistaken, was Stanford's first pass attempt over a yard down the field.

6:12

Ladies and gentlemen, we have our first pass interference penalty of the game! Ducks DB apparently held the receiver while also inexplicably leaving him wide open.

4:13

Stanford has the perfect play call on 4th & 1 with the play-action pass, completely fooling the Oregon defense. Too bad they couldn't execute it. [CardinaLOL-Ed.]

3:26 Oregon 7, Stanford 7

There's that Oregon offense we've all come to know and love. Three plays, 51-yards and a magnificent touchdown catch from Keanon Lowe. Extra point was a little iffy.

1:50
No new developments in this game, i'd just like to draw attention to the score Baylor 28, Kansas State 7.

0:42
Oregon safety picks off the pass and returns it to the 46-yard line. Oregon offense has one last shot to take the lead against these dorks before the half.

0:13
Mariota saw Hogan's interception and raised him one. First interception thrown by Super Mariota in some time.

Halftime: Stanford 7, Oregon 7
This game has, of course, gone exactly as I predicted except the Ducks are not up 24-0. Both defenses are playing reasonably well while the offenses are waged in a battle to see who can play more sloppily. Stanford's conservative gameplan so far has had some success but at some point they are going to be forced to try more passes beyond one yard down the field. The Oregon offense has had a few big plays but Stanford's defense has done a solid job of forcing them into 3rd and longs and general derpitude. Oregon gets the ball to start the second half. Here's an exclusive clip from the locker room:



Now we move onto a more interesting topic, Kansas State is losing. It's 28-17 at halftime. And this could not be better for both Oregon and college football as a whole. No Wildcats means that the championship game will be between programs with an all-time winning record. USC should beat Notre Dame—unless they pull an Oklahoma—which would set the stage for the Oregon-Alabama championship matchup that the people have been clamoring for. An Oregon-Alabama title game would be an exciting clash of styles and culture with a wonderful old school-new school angle. Far more interesting than Oregon plays team that paid $1.5 million to not play Oregon this year.

In other news, HOLY SHIT
12:09
Oregon's blur offense strikes again with another quick five-plays and punt drive. Make no mistake about, this Stanford defense came to play tonight. After being abused the past two years, they seem to have finally figured out how to somewhat slow down the Ducks. Cardinal player fumbles the punt afterwards setting up Oregon with fantastic field position. Call is under further review... and it's overturned.
9:55
Former Oregon tight end David Paulson encourages you all to eat nuts and fish. As I bite into another barbecue beef sandwich, I find myself wondering why they didn't follow this PSA with the press box catering remains a mystery, albeit a welcome one.

9:33
The Ducks keep on getting close to breaking a big play and the crowd can sense it.

9:00
Mariota needs to send Trent Murphy a thank you card for dropping that last interception.

8:41
An impressive throw by the referee after that last play. Floated the yellow flag a solid 15 yards while calling a 15-yard penalty against Oregon for a late hit. These referees are drawing an impressive amount of boos from the Autzen crowd as they slow the game down.

Folks, it is getting ugly out here. I haven't heard boos like this since Santa Claus showed up at a Philadelphia Eagles game. The game officials wasted about three minutes of everyone's time right there.

6:35 Oregon 14, Stanford 7
De'Anthony Thomas rumbles into the end zone following a methodical drive by the Oregon offense. The only thing slowing the Ducks down was the officials trying to figure out the down and yardage. Sixteen plays, 95 yards, one dropped interception, one personal foul, and four guys trying to figure out whether it was first or third down.

6:20
And Stanford fumbles it away. It's as if the Cardinal players have all spontaneously remembered that they are the also-rans. Playing in conference championship games is not really their thing.
4:22
With the sword of Damocles dangling over the heads of the beleaguered Stanford Cardinal, Chip Kelly opts for the field goal. The kicker missed it because of course he did. The 2012 Oregon Ducks have a great offense, solid defense and one of the weakest kicking games a top team has ever fielded.

2:43
The once flag-happy referees misplaced them for two plays to the displeasure of the Autzen crowd. Let me tell you, 58,000 Duck fans booing in unison is a true sight.


0:14
Stanford fumbles the ball again. I must say, this has been an impressive display of not wanting to win a tough road game by the Cardinal offense. Not that Oregon's defenders needed any help.

End of the Third Quarter: Oregon 14, Stanford 7
The score is far closer than the game actually feels. To their credit, the Cardinal is not missing any tackles tonight but it's only a matter of time before that last man finally misses one. Stanford's offense on the other hand is not doing the team any favors right now. Raise your hand if you had Oregon leading 14-7 going into the fourth quarter.

Here's an encouraging statistic for Stanford:8:05
Stanford misses the field goal attempt after an impressive drive stalled. It's like this team doesn't actually want to win.

2:24
Stanford's patented all tight end offense is leading them down the field. Fourth down and 1 to go at Oregon's 12-yard line.

2:14
And they convert it. Poop. First & goal, Stanford.

1:35 Stanford 14, Oregon 14
Stanford's giant tight end catches the ball for a touchdown... or did he. Officials looking it over. Didn't look like he had complete possession until his shoulder was out of bounds. But I'm guessing the Cardinal gets this call. And the crowd goes wild once again as the officials overturn the call to award Stanford the game-tying touchdown.

1:13
And it appears for the first time in weeks that Oregon is not the only team that gets called for pass interference. Flag bails out the Oregon offense.
0:36
Mariota overthrows Josh Huff on third and long forcing the Ducks to punt. It's looking like overtime in Eugene, folks.

End of Regulation: Stanford 14, Oregon 14
The Cardinal absolutely dominated the fourth quarter. We are headed into the exciting world of college overtime. Two impressive defensive performances are about to be shafted by a deluge of points as both offenses start at the 25-yard line. Stanford wins the toss and elects to go on defense. Time to see if the Oregon offense can pull its head out of its ass.

The answer is no. And Maldonaldo stakes his claim for goat of the year by bouncing the field goal attempt off the upright.


And so it has come to this. Stanford is attempting what could be the game-winning field goal.

Final Score: Stanford 17, Oregon 14
Hats off to the Cardinal an incredible performance tonight. For those of you who have been following this blog, things were said. They cannot be unsaid. As I sit here watching Stanford players dance in the end zone, they deserve all the credit in the world. Stanford came out with a plan and executed it to the numbers. Their defense did not miss any tackles and their kicker managed to suck less than Oregon's. This was an instant classic, a game that will forever live in Pac-12 lore. [If anyone needs me, I'll be in the angry dome - Ed.]

As pointed out earlier, the Kelly-coached Ducks had not lost a game when leading at the end of the third quarter until today. We keep track of these statistics only so we can tell you when they're broken. This also happens to be the exact same week in the season that USC defeated Oregon in Autzen. Maldonado missed a field goal at the end of that one, too. However, unlike that game, I left the stadium feeling that the better team won. Stanford's defense played one hell of a game. Hands down the finest defensive performance I've seen against this Oregon offense in the Chip Kelly-era.

As of right now, we've got a Stanford-UCLA Pac-12 title game—coincidentally, these two teams play each other next week—and a Notre Dame-Alabama championship game. Just like we all predicted, right guys?

 
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