The #5 Stanford Cardinals met head-to-head with the #3 Oregon Ducks on what was arguably the most anticipated Thursday night of the season, with two top-10 matchups on the schedule (#6 Baylor also played the #10 Oklahoma Sooners). With revenge, redemption, and BCS implications on the line, University of Oregon running back De’Anthony Thomas summed it up to reporters and the majority of college football fans nationwide: “We should at least put up 40.”
Oregon played the first three quarters of the game with the slow, awkward, artlessness of an eighth-grader trying to blend in at the senior prom. It just wasn’t working. Easy balls were dropped. Turnovers added to momentum. Oregon’s offense was shutout until the fourth quarter. Yes, dapper Oregon, known for its aggressive, uptempo, fun-to-watch offense, which has dominated opponents and polls alike for eleven weeks, didn’t put points on the board until there was ten minutes left on the clock.
Thus far, Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota has led the Heisman race with 144-of-225 for 2,281 yards. 20 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions. Oh, and sometimes he runs the ball, too…56 times, to be exact, for 511 yards and nine touchdowns. His last interception? Last year, during the 17-14 overtime casualty of 2012 which the stylish Ducks lost to…you guessed it, Stanford.
Oregon, who was set to reclaim the #2 spot in the BCS polls with a win—and was likely to suffocate Florida State’s championship chances in the process—was undoubtedly spurred on by the fear of losing their pass to Pasadena. Suddenly, the Ducks staged a three-touchdown, onside-kick-recovering, field-goal-blocking, fourth quarter comeback that ignited living rooms from Tallahassee all the way to the Golden Coast. Ready, set, Mariota.
However, for the second year in a row, the Oregon Ducks couldn’t make it out of the forest alive. Stanford controlled forty-two and a half minutes minutes of the sixty minutes of play; their offensive line ran the bunker-style offense like they’d been doing it since Pop Warner, and their defense used more pressure than their chemistry department does lab coats.
Not even their thermo-regulation Nike uniforms could save them from a second loss to a team with a slower pace, an everyday offense, and a whole lot to prove.
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