Simulation Station: Oregon

You can read previews of opponents' strengths and weaknesses anywhere. But who cares about the outlook for some third-string tailback? That's why, here at The Bootleg, we took matters into our own hands, quite literally. We played out Stanford's upcoming season in NCAA Football 2012, and are faithfully reporting our video game results. How will the Card do this week? Read on!

Stanford, Calif. – Nov. 12, 2011

Stanford turned one of the season's most-hyped games into a rout. They scored in the air, they scored on the ground, they scored on defense and they scored on special teams. They scored early and they scored often, and by the time the carnage stopped, Stanford had dropped Oregon in a most unexpected 45-14 demolition.

"We believed," Andrew Luck said. "Some folks said it would be close and some folks said we didn't have a chance. But it's not 2010 anymore. We thought we could outplay this squad, and I guess we did."

Stanford led 17-7 heading into the final fifteen minutes, and once the fourth quarter arrived, the Cardinal blew the lid off the game. Stepfan Taylor got his second touchdown of the day 18 seconds into the period, going up his linemen's backs and through the gut of the Oregon defense from six yards out. After a Duck punt, Luck raised the ante with a rushing touchdown of his own, using a two-yard bootleg left to cap a drive that saw him rumble down the right sideline on a 39-yard scramble.

"Andrew doesn't move fast for a quarterback; he moves fast, period," Taylor said. "I think he could have played college ball as a tailback, or maybe a linebacker."

Luck's legs put Stanford ahead 31-7 with six minutes remaining, but there was more to come. Trying to mount a furious rally, Oregon quarterback Darron Thomas threw into double coverage, and Johnson Bademosi made him pay. Bademosi leapt for his second interception of the day, turned on the jets and ran untouched the other way for a 32-yard score.

"Right place, right time," Bademosi said. "It could have been any of us out there. The coaches did a great job of disguising coverages and putting us in great positions to make plays."

With Stanford's defense playing off, Oregon's Josh Huff then caught a ball underneath in space, and got enough blocking to spring loose for a 30-yard score, cancelling out Bademosi's touchdown minutes earlier. Luck closed out the scoring with a nine-yard strike to fullback Ryan Hewitt as the game clock struck two minutes to go.

"I know we have to get back to work tomorrow, but there are going to be some celebrations here tonight," Hewitt said. "The whole campus was looking forward to this one, and we put on a pretty good show."

The game's first score came on a 34-yard Jordan Williamson field goal. Luck and Coby Fleener then connected on a wheel route from midfield to put Stanford up 10-0 in the early second. Taylor scored minutes later from one yard out to give the Card a 17-0 halftime lead, and Oregon's Keanon Lowe took a slant 38 yards in the third to set the stage for Stanford's fourth- quarter explosion.

Oregon's offense couldn't do much aerially, and so Stanford felt free to stack the line and blitz with defensive backs, Coach Shaw explained postgame. The tactic negated Oregon's quickness, and crippled their offense, which is based in large part on lateral movement.

Meanwhile, Stanford took a page from Oregon's playbook, which appeared to catch the Ducks unprepared. The Cardinal were the team playing at a no-huddle tempo, running fly sweeps and options to great effect, and using their mobile quarterback to keep the opposing defense on its heels.

"You can write about the strategy part of it, but it's really the kids," Shaw said. "They have the ability to make us coaches look very smart or very stupid, and today, they made us look like a Mensa convention."

Stanford now closes its regular season with visits from archrivals Cal and Notre Dame.

"I'm happy, but I'm also glad they didn't dump the Gatorade on me or carry anyone out on their shoulders," Shaw said of his squad. "We have two pretty big games coming up, in case you hadn't noticed."

Disclaimer: The Bootleg's crystal ball cannot be held responsible for any wagers placed. Also, EA Sports doesn't know about injuries and depth chart changes and such. Take the stories in the spirit in which they're intended.

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