1Q: Ducks find lightning twice (14-10 Oregon)

Stanford has 12:20 of first-quarter possession, but trails by four. It's early, but this game has been everything you feared from the Oregon O as a Stanford fan.

Pregame: No big upsets today, and we'll hope that trend continues for the next few hours at least. Oklahoma State trailed by 10 at halftime at Iowa State, and Clemson led by just a touchdown late at Syracuse, but the undefeated favorites pulled out the wins on the road. Strength of schedule only grows stronger, as Notre Dame and Northwestern keep winning for Stanford. Don't look now, but Northwestern's only losses are to undefeated Iowa and a top-15 Michigan (in for the fight of its life, now in overtime at Indiana). Meanwhile, UCLA has just two losses and is also in the CFP Top 25. If the Bruins can win out, they would represent a third Top 25 victory for the Cardinal (and potential fourth, should Stanford win in the Pac-12 Championship).

Gus Johnson on the call. We could lose by 50 and I'd still enjoy watching Gus call the game.

Final pregame thoughts: How great would it be if Jim Harbaugh, off all people, ends up upsetting Ohio State and Iowa to send the Cardinal to the playoff? Michigan/Indiana now in double OT... Also, not to get greedy, but if we do make the playoff, I'll take the opposite side of the bracket as Alabama, thank you very much. They're the best team in the country to my eyes.

Christian McCaffrey for 15 running off-tackle right on the first snap from scrimmage, on a play blocked for five. He gets more out of less as a runner than just about anyone I've seen. The best college running back I've seen was Maurice Clarett, but No. 5 is up there. Third and one after McCaffrey gets the first three touches, so Remound "The Vulture" Wright plows forward for two. Devon Cajuste has what appears to be a black brace around his neck, but doesn't affect his peripheral vision as he skies to high-point the ball and get a foot down just inside the sideline on a circus-catch of a Kevin Hogan overthrow on the game's first pass. McCaffrey twice, and then another third-down conversion, this one on a Michael Rector hook. McCaffrey for another seven to bring the Card into the red zone, and the drive time over five minutes. Great opening effort, now let's finish with six. McCaffrey with a throwback to a wide-open Hogan, but the quarterback couldn't dig the underthrow out of the turf. No matter, as a speed option right the next play moves the sticks. No, wait, Austin Hooper's beat playside and commits the hold, legitimate call. Hogan keeps for ten, but that's a victory of sorts for the Oregon defense to hold the Cardinal out of the end zone. Still, six-plus minute drive for the offense, and Conrad Ukropina is true on a 33-yarder.

Stanford 3, Oregon 0, 8:43 remaining, first quarter

57-yard drive, marching 12 plays in 6:17. Beautiful playcalling again -- in particular down in the red zone with the McCaffrey throwback, speed option (negated by penalty) and Hogan keeper on consecutive plays.

Michigan hangs on for the 48-41 win, which means they'll be playing for a shot at the conference championship against Ohio State, so should bring their A game against the Buckeyes. Meanwhile, Arkansas up 7-0 over LSU early... don't tell me you'd trust the committee to do right by Stanford should Bama stumble and LSU win out to win the SEC.

Gus Johnson with the funny: "Oregon dropped the slot machine on Cal last week, 777 yards." Royce Freeman goes minus-4 and then 49, as Dallas Lloyd does well to prevent a touchdown. Freeman comes up gimpy though. Ducks run for another 15, then Aziz Shittu offsides. Kevin Palma seeing some early time, stopping the Ducks on first and goal at the two. No matter, as the Ducks score just like that on the next play. Six plays, 80 yards, all runs.

Oregon 7, Stanford 3, 6:15 remaining, first quarter

Gus: "Buckle your seatbelts, folks." For Stanford fans, the hope has to be that this is par for the course for the defense, which often struggles on the first drive of a game, only to then stiffen. If that's the case though, I still don't understand why we don't use some timeouts on defense on our first drive of the game to try to adjust a little quicker to the opposing attack.

Offense back on the field, needing seven to keep the pace. Instead, McCaffrey blown up on a second-down screen to set up third and nine. Hogan falling to his knees finds Michael Rector falling out of bounds, but ruled out of bounds. Weak personal foul call on a Oregon 'backer hitting Austin Hooper high is the functional equivalent of a turnover, however, as that's a fresh set of downs for the Cardinal instead of the punt team coming out. I really do think that league officials protect their teams that represent playoff bids, and Stanford's the beneficiary early. Bryce Love breaks two tackles to take a screen for 19 yards, and then McCaffrey falls forward through contact for seven, so the Cardinal capitalizing on the questionable call. Screen to McCaffrey loses four, however, and Stanford should be thinking four downs at the Duck 37. Or just do that -- back-shoulder ball to Rector for ten moves the chains. Oregon is flowing to the ball so quickly, they're blowing up the Stanford blocking schemes. You've seen it three times on screens (though Love made two guys miss and gained 19 anyways), and now you see it on yet another screen to Daniel Marx, which was probably blocked for a touchdown, but the defense back was there to wrap up before . OHMIGOD. Kevin Hogan with the play of the season on a quarterback keeper, hurdling a diving would-be defender and absorbing a hit to bounce into the end zone for a 22-yard keeper. Dang.

Stanford 10, Oregon 7, 1:13 remaining, first quarter

Just like that, however, all of Stanford's work evaporates. Oregon goes 75 yards on a one-play "drive" -- Charles Nelson gets out to the right sideline, and then goes the distance untouched. Stanford's defensive backs couldn't get off blocks ten, 20, 30 yards downfield, but the Card must have been caught in the wrong defense also, as they were outnumbered badly once Nelson got to the edge.

Stanford 10, Oregon 7, 1:13 remaining, first quarter

McCaffrey twice for good gains, but that's the quarter. Card take a one-two combo to the mouth: How will they respond?


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