Oregon tops Stanford

No, tonight's final score of 52-31 didn't tell the whole story of Stanford's loss to Oregon, but it was indicative of one thing. When it needed to most, Stanford was unable to stop Oregon's offensive attack. An early 21-3 Cardinal lead vanished, and Oregon went on a 49-10 run to close out the game.

But despite a deafening Autzen Stadium crowd, the Card got out of the gates quickly.

After limiting Oregon to a field goal on the game's opening possession, Stanford marched right down the field on its first possession, scoring a touchdown on an 18-yard strike from Andrew Luck to Griff Whalen.

After an Oregon fumble on the ensuing kickoff, Stanford extended its lead to 14-3 when Luck crossed the goal line on a ten yard rush.

Moments later, after Oregon had driven into Stanford territory, linebacker Chase Thomas intercepted a Darron Thomas screen pass. The next play from scrimmage, Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor ran 44 yards for a touchdown to give Stanford a 21-3 lead.

But unfortunately for Stanford, it was all downhill from there.

After a 29-yard pass from Thomas to Duck receiver Jeff Maehl trimmed Stanford's lead to 21-10, Oregon coach Chip Kelly dialed up an onside kick, which worked to perfection.

Starting from its own 46, Oregon methodically drove the ball down the field. Duck running back LaMichael James punctuated the 54 yard drive with a five yard touchdown run, his first of three scores on the night, to reduce the Card's lead to 21-17.

Stanford was able to answer the Ducks' touchdown when Luck found a wide-open Coby Fleener for a 36-yard touchdown pass, but that was the last time the Card found the end zone all night.

The second half was all Oregon. Although the Cardinal actually out-gained Oregon 262 yards to 258, the Ducks were superior on the scoreboard, shutting out Stanford 28-0.

That's not to say the Cardinal didn't have its opportunities to put points on the board.

Stanford drove the ball well on its first possession of the second half before a questionable pass interference call on Doug Baldwin effectively stalled Stanford's drive.

On Stanford's next possession, the Cardinal appeared to have converted a third down when receiver Chris Owusu took a brutal shot to the head and fumbled. Duck safety Eddie Pleasant scooped up the loose ball and returned it 51 yards to the Stanford three. (No update was given on Owusu's status post-game)

Then, after Oregon took advantage of the short field on a James' touchdown run to gain a 38-31 lead, Luck made an uncharacteristic mistake, heaving a deep ball for Corey Gatewood that was intercepted by Cliff Harris at the Oregon 30 yard line.

Although Stanford was able to stop the Ducks on fourth down on the ensuing drive, Oregon held Stanford to a three and out on the Card's next possession, forcing a Daniel Zychlinski punt.

With a seven point lead and good field possession (Zychlinski's punt was returned to the Stanford 49), Oregon upped its lead to 45-31 when Thomas found an open D.J. Davis for a 25-yard touchdown strike.

Then came the real dagger. Stanford put together an impressive drive, moving the ball from its own 23-yard line to Oregon's 1 in 10 plays. But on third and goal from the one inch line, Luck and center Chase Beeler botched the quarterback/center exchange, forcing the Cardinal back to Oregon's six yard line. (While Harbaugh said he didn't know what happened on the fumble after the game, Luck took responsibility for the miscommunication, telling the media, "That was my fault. I pulled out too early and we took a negative play.") Luck's pass to Zach Ertz on fourth down was knocked away, and the Ducks took over on downs.

Stanford's defense was able to hold on the Ducks' next drive, but Stanford's last real chance to stay in the game ended abruptly, when Oregon defensive back Harris picked off his second pass of the game, this one in the end zone.

James added his third touchdown of the game, this one a 76-yard scamper, with 2:14 left in the game, but by that time the final outcome was already decided.

When it was all said and done, the Ducks put up a staggering 626 yards of total offense to Stanford's 518. LaMichael James ran for 257 yards and scored three touchdowns on 31 carries, while Darron Thomas ran 117 and threw for 238 and 3 scores.

Taylor had another nice evening for Stanford, rushing for 113 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, while Luck was 29/46 for 341 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.

The Card will look to bounce back from tonight's tough loss next Saturday at home against USC. Both teams are 4-1.

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