That felt awfully familiar.
Stanford dominated the Ducks in the trenches and ate up nearly three quarters of clock time while blanking the Ducks for the majority of the game. For coach David Shaw and the Cardinal – who now have the Rose Bowl in their sights again – it was a case of executing their gameplan.
“If you control the line of scrimmage on either side of the ball you can beat these guys,” Stanford coach David Shaw said.
Even when everybody in the stadium knew what was coming, Stanford got just enough yards on the ground to extend their drives. Meanwhile, the Cardinal derailed Marcus Mariota‘s Heisman campaign by bringing pressure and making life difficult for the Ducks.
“They dominated the line of scrimmage tonight, something I’m sure our guys are not happy about,” Nick Aliotti said. “But the bottom line is they dominated the line of scrimmage and wer able to keep the ball, keep our offense off the field.”
But for all of the Cardinal’s success, Oregon still shot themselves in the foot, making a few crucial mistakes on offense.
“When we look at the film, there will be a lot of would haves, should haves, could haves, but unfortunately, you don’t get do overs,” Oregon coach Mark Helfrich said.
With the Ducks down 14-0 the offense finally started clicking, and Oregon marched into the red zone when De’Anthony Thomas was stripped by Shane Skov, cutting the drive short.
It was already the second time in the game the Ducks came up short on fourth and goal earlier when Mariota missed Bralon Addison on a fade route.
“It was go all the way,” starting left tackle Tyler Johnstone said. “We’re not a field-goal kicking team, everybody knows that. We like to run the ball, throw the ball, we’re going to score touchdowns. Three points isn’t enough for us.”
On the ensuing drive after the Thomas fumble, Stanford was held to 3rd and 6 in their own territory and the Ducks got to Kevin Hogan in the backfield only to see the Cardinal quarterback salvage a first down on the play.
Stanford would drive down the field and eat the remainder of the first half clock before kicking a field goal–with no time left on the clock, thanks to a defensive pass interference on Troy Hill – to take a 17-0 lead into the locker room.
The Ducks would nearly make a unbelievable comeback late, with a rally sparked by Rodney Hardrick‘s second big special teams play in as many weeks, but it wasn’t to be.
For the second straight season the Cardinal ended the Ducks hopes of a national title, but if Oregon wins out a BCS berth is still on the table.
“It is tough and it is hard because a lot of these guys have really worked hard,” Mariota said. “It ain’t over. It happens. We’re going to come back stronger than ever and we’re just going to take it in stride.”