4Q: Oregon in a classic, 38-36

There go the national title hopes, but couldn't have hoped for a better game, and Stanford still with a conference championship to play for, not to mention a chance to ruin Notre Dame's year.

Oregon 35, Stanford 23, start of fourth quarter

McCaffrey moves the chains yet again, and then Rollins Stallworth does the same, catching a corner route for 13 on a Kevin Hogan rollout. Back to Stallworth two plays later, for a 17-yard corner route, this time to the left. Card at the Duck four, wildcat gains just a yard, and then McCaffrey is strung out for a two-yard loss, as Dalton Schultz can't seal the edge. No matter, as the fade works! Greg Taboada pulls down a five-yard score and the Card are back within a score.

Oregon 35, Stanford 30, 11:18 remaining

Yards 406-404 Ducks, Stanford with 67 plays to Oregon's 35. Card 10-of-14 on third downs to Oregon's 2-of-4, and it's been a pretty solid day for the offense. Charles Nelson does too much on the return, and advances to only the 16. The New Lady is loud, and wouldn't a turnover be nice here? Instead, 12 yards to Dwayne Stanford, and Vernon Adams is a perfect 10-of-10 on the night. Oregon runs Freeman for one yard, and then tries to run a pick play on second down, but pressure forces an Adams flush and throwaway -- his first incompletion of the day. And then the D can get after it on third down, and Brennan Scarlett and Joey Alfieri converge for the sack. McCaffrey fair catches Oregon's first punt of the day at his 32.

Oregon 35, Stanford 30, 9:32 remaining

Hogan 21-of-26 for 218, a touchdown, an interception, and another 50 yards and a touchdown on eight carries. McCaffrey 29 carries for 129 yards. Michael Rector leads with six catches for 75 yards, but how about Rollins Stallworth's three catches for 39 yards; didn't see that coming. Okay, the offense has been dealing body blows all day, let's see if they can close the deal against what should be one tired defense. McCaffrey for five, Oregon injury. Hope we have a good two-point play dialed up, and hope that if we do score here, we go quickly enough that we have time for a rebuttal should Oregon answer.

How big, by the way, is Stanford's one-minute drive before the half looking right now? Take three points off the board and the Card are down eight instead of five.

Back to action, McCaffrey for three to bring up third and two, and it's the Remound Wright package, though with Hogan in the shotgun. Austin Hooper, Hogan's favorite security blanket, for five over the middle to move the sticks. Clock nearing eight minutes, ball at the Card 46. McCaffrey for just two out of a heavy set, has to be disappointing that we're not creating bigger holes to run through with our big boys in the fourth quarter.

And then, disaster. Hogan fumbles the snap with Johnny Caspers pulling across center, and Oregon recovers with 7:16 to play at the Card 46. One advantage of an offense that gains 10 yards per play instead of five per play is that you have way more opportunities to shoot yourselves in the foot on a 18-play drive instead of a three-play drive. There are structural advantages to Stanford's approach too, but a structural disadvantage just bit the Cardinal at the worst possible time.

Oregon still going quick, picking up two first downs on consecutive plays. They then try to slow it down, to approval from the FOX announcers, but why, a touchdown at any tempo is a backbreaker right now? Instead, with the Ducks trying to Stanford their way through the red zone, they stall and settle for three, keeping the Cardinal within eight. Think that was a strategic mistake for the Ducks there.

Oregon 38, Stanford 30, 5:12 remaining

Would be cruel irony if this game ended up hinging on Stanford blowing a timeout before the opening play of a second-half drive, but maybe that's just my nerves speaking now. Would be sweet irony if we had some Oregon-like trick play to spring on a kickoff return -- scratch that, touchback -- or to answer quickly. Arizona 10, Utah 0 early.

Hogan to Rector for 17. Hogan to Schultz for 17. Seeing as Hogan is now 23-of-28, we should be throwing every play against these guys. Hogan to McCaffrey for 18, down to the Oregon 23. McCaffrey for eight on a direct snap. Clock nearing three minutes with the ball at the Duck 15. Hogan for maybe one on a keeper. Guess we are trying to run out the clock with a score here, which is dangerous if we don't get the two-point conversion. Or that. Hogan again with the fumble, Oregon with the recovery, and 2:06 left.

A lot will be said about this sequence, but if you are down at least a score late and gaining 17, 17 and 18 on consecutive passes against one of the worst secondaries in the country, why come back to the run against a team that has done a decent job plugging up the run.

Oregon with consecutive runs and Stanford's final timeout comes at 1:58. Sure would be nice to have one more timeout left, huh? But first, need a third and 10 stop at our 15. Adams wisely takes a sack instead of forcing a pass, but with the Ducks punting from the five, and Stanford not having enough time to do anything but pass, this might work out in our favor.

Stanford's offense should, by no means, be getting three cracks at this, but they should have a minute left, less than half the field to go, and yes, a third chance to reach the end zone against the Ducks. I'll say it now... this would be the greatest Stanford win in recent history, perhaps ever, if the Cardinal can pull this off.

1:09, no timeouts left, ball at the Duck 49. Bomb to Rector incomplete. Too aggressive, we can checkdown to an open McCaffrey for 15 yards, as the announcers point out. Trent Irwin slant for 15. Oregon timeout. Maybe we could have two plays called here... Ball at the Duck 35, 48 seconds left. Hogan bomb incomplete to a wide-open Irwin. Too much juice, because he was there. David Shaw jumping up and down with what-if frustration. Second down, Hooper and Rector incomplete on a 20-yard bomb. Hogan's trying to win it all on one play. We have enough time to keep doing those 12-yard curls... RIGHT ON CUE! Rector for a 12-yard curl, Card spike. Wish we had another play called to go there. Ball at Duck 25, 28 seconds left. Hogan throwaway takes nine seconds. Ideally, we get something over the middle for first-down yardage, spike, and then get two shots at the end zone from the 10.

Or pass interference will work! Hogan bombs for Devon Cajuste in the end zone, Cajuste makes an absolutely amazing one-handed catch, but out of bounds, and a bad call bails out the Cardinal, as on replay, there's but minimal contact and no obvious interference, and a likely uncatchable ball besides. Oregon takes a timeout, then has 12 on the field, and now we're to the four.

HOGAN TO TABOADA for the second time today. Gus Johnson is screaming, but all for naught if we can't hit this two-point play here. Oregon holds! Card go empty backfield, Hogan releases just before getting hit, but a diving Oregon defender saves the day for the Ducks.

Time for a true miracle, as we onside kick, but Oregon recovers and we're offsides to boot. There go the national title hopes, but couldn't have hoped for a better game, and Stanford still with a conference championship to play for, not to mention a chance to ruin Notre Dame's year.

Oregon 38, Stanford 36, Final


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