|Stepfan Taylor led a bruising ground attack with 161 yards rushing in Stanford's 17-14 overtime win at Oregon. (US Presswire)|
STANFORD WON. Jordan Williamson hit a 37-yard field goal in overtime to deliver one of the most memorable wins in recent Stanford history, topping the heavily-favored and top-ranked Ducks 17-14. A week after overcoming four turnovers to beat Oregon State, the Cardinal turned the ball over three times in Autzen Stadium and still managed to escape with a win. Quarterback Kevin Hogan played well in the high-pressure situation, and leaned heavily on the power rushing attack led by Stepfan Taylor.
HOW STANFORD WON: Stanford slowed the Ducks down by winning the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Defensively, the front seven lived up to their billing as one of the best in the nation; holding the Ducks to just 198 yards rushing - their second-lowest total of the season. The offense was able to compliment those efforts by gobbling up clock with the ground game. Taylor carried the ball 33 times for 161 yards, helping Stanford hold the ball for 37:05 of game clock. Zach Ertz continued his stellar performance as Hogan's favorite target, pulling in a team-high 11 catches for 106 yards and the game-tying touchdown with 1:35 remaining.
Oregon was out gained on the ground for the first time in 2012, and the result was the end of their FBS-best 13-game winning streak. Though with everything that Oregon had on the line Saturday night, stats and streaks are the least of their disappointments.
WHEN STANFORD WON: The game ended with Williamson's field goal, but the game was won by Stanford's defense. On the first possession of overtime, Oregon got none of the results they wanted. Two Mariota scrambles to the sideline and an incomplete pass to Josh Huff (that was not even that close, really) set up Alejandro Maldonado with a 41 yard attempt to take the lead. It was a long distance kick for Maldonado - who entered the game with only one other attempt on the season, and it ricocheted off the upright to give Stanford a chance to win.
WHAT STANFORD WON: The Cardinal improved to 9-2 overall, and their 7-1 conference record puts them one win away from a Pac-12 title game appearance. It has been an up-and-down season for Stanford, particularly with their ever-changing quarterback situation. But at the end of the day all that matters is the number of W's on the board, and Stanford is in a position to get their 10th win and clinch the Pac-12 North with a win over UCLA next week.
That's where things get interesting - a win for Stanford clinches the Pac-12 North, but also sets up a rematch against the Bruins the following week for the Pac-12 title. If the Cardinal are going to win the conference and earn a trip to the Rose Bowl, it looks like they will have to beat the Bruins two weeks in a row to do so. If Stanford loses to UCLA next week and Oregon beats Oregon State in the Civil War, the Ducks will earn the Pac-12 bid and host the title game on Dec. 1.
WHAT OREGON LOST: First, control of the Pac-12 North. There are lots of moving pieces and factors that Oregon cannot control, but winning the Pac-12 was absolutely in their hands before Saturday night's loss. Now they will need a Stanford loss and an Oregon State win to host another Pac-12 title game.
A Pac-12 title is likely Oregon's best chance to get back into the BCS title game picture, which was arguably the devastating fallout from the loss. After finally reaching No. 1 in the polls and No. 2 in the BCS, Oregon will slide down in the pecking order because of an inability to make/create a few plays in a game they were heavily favored to win. The Ducks are not out of the BCS title race, but they will need to pass that chaos magnet to the other teams in the top five now and hope for the best worst.
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