Stanford Cardinal Football

SEC Wins Again Over Pac-12 Due to Incompetence of Scott/Guerrero

I was 10 years old in 1957 when the Soviet Union launched the first man-made satellite, Sputnik. I can tell you with certainty that Uncle Sammy’s reaction to being eclipsed technologically by the Red Menace was far more tepid than...

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Bones of Cupcakes Litter Road to Final Four

Mike Merrrell’s Three-and-Out The path to the national championship is teeming with eastern teams leaving bones of cupcakes in their wake. The conference with the toughest, deepest competition is relegated to being the only of the Five Power Conferences with...

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Paybacks — That Was For 2012: Ducks Play Spoiler to Cardinal Playoff Hopes

When the College Football Playoff rankings were released last Tuesday, one-loss Notre Dame found itself among the top five, creating a stir, as the Fighting Irish were ranked higher than eight undefeated and all one-loss teams, except Alabama. The inevitable, and...

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Problem Solving with Stanford-Oregon

If you are an Oregon fan, chances are you woke up happy on Sunday morning.  (Unless you really celebrated on Saturday.) That extra hour of sleep was nice, certainly. The enjoyment of that victory can’t...

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Two Reasons Why the Cardinal Defeated the Ducks in ’12 and ’13

It’s game day Duck fans, is anyone as excited and anxious as I? As I read through some of the news articles regarding today’s game I am finding so many different views and so...

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An Analysis of How to Stop Stanford’s Play-Action

I confess I’m a bit conflicted. Yes, I’m a University of Oregon freshman and a huge Ducks fan; however, until this September I’ve bled Cardinal red my entire life. Beginning with my first Stanford...

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Marcus Mariota: Greatest Duck Quarterback Ever?

As with any Duck game I watch on television, the usual texts went back and forth between friends during Friday night’s game. The topics were likely the same as they were for many others...

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Top Three Pac-12 Non-Conference Games to Watch

Exactly 19 days from today is the first college football game of the 2014 season when Abilene Christian plays Georgia State on August 27th. The wait for football season is almost over and with that our appetite for news about important or exciting games is only increasing. These three games are by far not the only good non-conference matches in …

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Did Saturday’s Win Reverse Oregon’s 21st-Century Curse?

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by Nathan Roholt, Fishduck.com

Saturday’s schedule saw a huge win for Oregon, and I’m not talking about what USC did.

While the game against Utah may not have been an overly impressive victory – Oregon didn’t score at least 55 against an unranked opponent for the first time all season – it was still one that was sorely needed for Oregon, both for 2013 season and the historical purposes.

Bouncing back after a tough loss to Stanford was important, but not unexpected.  The Ducks have been able to rebound from tough losses in recent seasons; having followed its previous nine regular season losses with a win in the following game.  That is a far greater track record of success than what curse has plagued Oregon the entire 21st century.  I call it:

The Curse of the Third Weekend in November

Like Walter Thurmond in 2009, De'Anthony Thomas' kick return for a TD changed the game against Utah

Like Walter Thurmond III in 2009, De’Anthony Thomas’ kick return for a TD changed the game against Utah.

This weekend’s results, both the wins by Oregon and USC, may have produced elation for Duck fans, but this was a rare experience for them.  Historically, last weekend had annually been one of the most profoundly miserable weekends for the Ducks.  Since defeating Oregon State, 25-14, on November 20, 1999, seemingly every significant heartbreaking moment in recent Oregon memory has taken place on the third weekend in November.  Look at the ‘history of misery’ that has taken place for the Ducks on that weekend during the 2000s:

2000: Oregon State 23, Oregon 13. The fifth-ranked Ducks controlled their own destiny for going to the Rose Bowl heading into the first ever Civil War where both teams ranked in the Top-10.  Instead, it became a game most remembered for the five interceptions thrown by Joey Harrington, and the loss created a three-way tie at the top of the Pac-10.  Somehow out of this three-way tie, it was decided that Washington would be going to its first Rose Bowl in eight years.

2002: Washington 42, Oregon 14.  Oregon suffers its biggest margin of defeat to the Huskies since 1983, in a game best remembered for what happened after it ended, with Washington’s players going back onto the field to stomp on the Oregon “O.”

2004: Oregon State 50, Oregon 21.  As if suffering its biggest margin of defeat to the Beavers since 1942 wasn’t bad enough, this loss keeps Oregon from a winning season and a bowl game, the only time the Ducks failed to have a winning season since 1993.

2006: Arizona 37, Oregon 10.  Worst loss at home by the Ducks since the aforementioned loss to the Huskies in 2002.  Arguably the last bad loss at Autzen Stadium for the Ducks, who haven’t lost a game at home by more than a touchdown since.

2007: Arizona 34, Oregon 24.  It happened on a Thursday, but it was still the third weekend in November, where, following Dennis Dixon’s season-ending knee injury, second-ranked Oregon loses both the game and its quarterback.

De'Anthony Thomas helped get Oregon back in the game against USC in 2011

De’Anthony Thomas helped get Oregon back in the game against USC in 2011.

2011: USC 38, Oregon 35.  The Trojans take a 38-14 lead late in third quarter before a furious Oregon rally at the end falls short on a missed field goal.

2012: Stanford 17, Oregon 14.  I think I’ve said enough about this game already.

Only four times (2003, 2005, 2008, 2009) in the previous 13 seasons have the Ducks won on the third weekend in November.  Two of those wins – over Arizona in 2008 and 2009 – could have easily gone the other way.  The Ducks saw a 21-point fourth quarter lead shrink to three before a late LaGarrette Blount touchdown sealed the game in 2008.  In 2009, Oregon needed many breaks to defeat Arizona 44-41 in two overtimes.  Luckily, the football gods decided missing the Rose Bowl on a missed extra point would be a fate too cruel for even Oregon fans to endure, lest it should be added to this list.

The most telling note in these historical struggles:  The two benchmark seasons for Oregon this century, 2001 and 2010, were the two years that Oregon didn’t schedule a game for the third weekend in November.  Perhaps it would be prudent in the future for Oregon to play any card it has, to keep that date open on future schedules.

Unless doing so is unnecessary; following a tough 20-17 loss to USC, maybe Oregon has passed on its third weekend in November Curse to Stanford, a program who went from national championship dark horse to Alamo Bowl participant in a few short hours last Saturday.  Historically, it had always been Oregon who had previously had its national championship hopes and conference title dreams snatched away from them at this particular point on the calendar.  That rare shift to seeing its hopes for a conference title restored at the expense of someone else’s loss, rather than the other way around – the way USC did for many years – is one Oregon fans can certainly embrace.

Can the Ducks re-establish themselves as Pac-12 Champions this season?

Can the Ducks re-establish themselves as Pac-12 Champions this season?

Perhaps this shift in roles between Stanford, Oregon and USC is permanent.  For years, USC found its losses to conference opponents as nationally celebrated events, only to find a way to emerge as conference champion by season’s end, a role embraced by Oregon this year should it beat Arizona, Oregon State, and the Pac-12 South champions.  If Oregon wins the Pac-12, it will play in its fifth-consecutive BCS bowl, something only done by USC and  Ohio State.

USC’s role has switched to a school whose identity is one of the scrappy team trying to win through chemistry and guile, a reputation once belonging to Stanford.  Now Stanford becomes what Oregon was pre-2009: a program every bit as talented as the rest of the conference, but one whom despite big wins, struggles to establish an identity as the conference’s premier program.

The curse began in 1999, the same year Stanford won the Pac-10, with Oregon finishing the season ranked higher.  Stanford wouldn’t win the conference again until 2012, when those identical circumstances applied again.  Clearly, the loop needed to be closed before being passed to the Cardinal.

So to Stanford, we bestow the Curse of the Third Weekend in November.  May it gave you the same such fortunes for the next 13n years, and may the curse’s passing keep the Ducks affixed atop the Pac-12 conference for many years to come.

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Nine Defining Plays of 2012 Season: #2 The Kick

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4. The Kick (November 17, vs. Stanford, Overtime)

 
The Play: On 4th down and 9, Alejandro Maldonado misses a 41-yard field goal attempt.
 

MaldonadoScott Norwood. Kyle Brotzman. Gerry Thomas. Do these names ring a bell? Most likely, you don’t remember these kickers for the kicks they made. Their legacies belong to the kicks they missed.

Norwood’s 47-yard miss cost the Buffalo Bills Super Bowl XXV. Brotzman’s 26-yard attempt against Nevada would have put undefeated Boise State in position to compete in a BCS bowl game, but he pushed it right, and the Wolf Pack upset the Broncos in overtime after Brotzman misfired again – this time from 29 yards. Florida State’s Gerry Thomas’s 34-yard miss against Miami in 1991, known as “Wide Right I”, cost the Seminoles a victory in a crucial late-season rivalry game.

Last season, two Pac-12 kickers earned infamy with ill-timed shanks. First, with the Ducks having pulled within 3 points of USC in a furious comeback, Oregon kicker Alejandro Maldonado pulled a 37-yarder wide left as time expired – crushing aspirations for a BCS National Championship berth.

Then, a month and a half later, Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson missed a 35-yard attempt that would have won the Cardinal the Fiesta Bowl over Oklahoma State. Instead, the game went to overtime, in which Williamson missed a 43-yarder, opening the door for Oklahoma State to win 41-38.

The bright side? Williamson was just a freshman. Maldonado, a sophomore. Somewhere down the line, both would have a chance at redemption. Those chances just so happened to come within moments of each other a season later, on a frigid November night in Eugene, with the Pac-12 North title on the line, as well as yet another chance at a national championship berth for the Ducks.

Having been stymied by Stanford’s swarming rush defense and atypical inaccuracy from quarterback Marcus Mariota, the Ducks’ offense went three-and-out on their overtime-opening drive, and out came Maldonado to attempt a 41-yarder.

The cliché goes: the home crowd went silent after the kicker missed. Really though, the stadium was already dead quiet as Maldonado lined up for his attempt. In a season that had seen the Ducks barely challenged, let alone taken to overtime, the team’s fate rested once again on the much-maligned sophomore placekicker.

And so came the snap, the hold, and the kick – slowly sailing left, then clanking off of the upright. Once again, if Oregon was to lose this game, its kicker would be the scapegoat.

SONY DSCOf course, placing blame directly on Maldonado’s shoulders is unfair. In a close game, one can point to numerous “could’ve been, should’ve been” moments. There was De’Anthony Thomas, mindlessly running downfield alongside Marcus Mariota on a first quarter burst, and failing to supply a block that would have allowed Mariota to score. There was Chip Kelly’s playcalling in the final minute of regulation, in which he called for conservative run plays.

There was the miscommunication between Mariota and receiver Josh Huff on the play preceding the missed kick, in which Huff broke his route off in the opposite direction of Mariota’s pass. There was Zach Ertz’s game-tying touchdown reception, in which it appeared his shoulder may have hit the ground out-of-bounds. Even after the kick, there was Michael Clay’s inability to corral a Stanford fumble that, if recovered, would have sent the game to a second overtime.

But no. This loss will always be remembered for Maldonado’s missed field goal. From here, you know how the story went. Williamson, unlike Maldonado, found redemption, sending his 37-yard field goal through the uprights and the visiting Stanford crowd into a raucous celebration, heard beyond the stunned silence of the Oregon faithful.

And so goes the nature of being the kicker. You may be nearly anonymous, a sort of sideshow to the game your teammates play – until you’re not, in either the best way, or the worst. There’s little room for an in-between. On November 17, 2012, Williamson’s legacy became that of a hero. Maldonado’s, that of a goat.