With Oregon holding only a six-point halftime lead, this game was up for grabs as the teams re-emerged from the locker room after halftime. Unfortunately for Stanford fans, Oregon wholly dominated the quarter, quickly scoring two touchdowns to build a 20-point lead and leave the Cardinal crowd in stunned silence. The Cardinal got some redemption at the end of the quarter, scoring a touchdown as time wound down, but the Ducks still have a 13-point lead and an offense that has demonstrated it can score almost at will.
Play of the quarter: With about nine minutes to go in the quarter, Stanford still had an excellent chance to fight its way back into the game, as its defense had just forced an Oregon punt. But the Oregon defense had other ideas, forcing a fumble on an Andrew Luck sack and recovering deep inside Stanford's red zone. The Ducks scored in short order, putting Stanford in the 20-point hole and completely changing the game's complexion.
Field position battle proves decisive: If the Cardinal hadn't given up two game-changing turnovers, I would be writing something completely different right now. Stanford's defense has not done that poorly, but when you give an opponent like Oregon one drive starting on the Stanford 20 and another on the Stanford 12, it's quite hard to prevent the Ducks from scoring. Nevertheless, the defense will need to step up again in the fourth quarter and make a stop; another Oregon touchdown will make it extremely difficult for the Cardinal to come back.
Lack of receiver depth hurting the Cardinal: It's becoming abundantly clear how much Stanford misses Chris Owusu and Zach Ertz. Stanford receivers have been dropping passes all game long, and while Andrew Luck is an incredibly talented quarterback, he is only as good as the receivers he has to throw to. Griff Whalen has played a spectacular game, but aside from him, Luck just doesn't have that many viable targets.
End of game. Final Score: Oregon 53, Stanford 30
Stanford's dreams of a national title and a Pac-12 title died in Stanford Stadium tonight, as the Cardinal were thoroughly outplayed by a talented Oregon squad. Stanford simply couldn't keep up with Oregon's speed, and the depletion of Andrew Luck's receiving corps made it impossible for the Cardinal's stellar quarterback to lead Stanford back from a big hole.
Play of the quarter: With around 4:30 left in the fourth quarter, Stanford's hopes weren't totally dead. It was still a two-score game, with the Card trailing 46-30, and, of course, Andrew Luck has an excellent track record of leading two-minute comeback drives. On the second play of the drive, however, a Luck pass bounced off the hands of Ty Montgomery and into the arms of linebacker Boseko Lokombo, who took the ball back 40 yards for a touchdown to seal the game.
Turnovers kill Cardinal: Turnovers were Stanford's Achilles heel today: the Cardinal coughed up two interceptions and three fumbles. Both interceptions led to critical touchdowns, while one of the fumbles also led to an important score (the other two fumbles came in garbage time).
Protection breaks down: Unlike in its other games, Stanford's offensive line was unable to impose its will on the Oregon front seven. Oregon's front sacked Andrew Luck three times and generally made life difficult for the Cardinal running game.
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