What They're Saying: Oregon State 38, Card 28

Stanford played the first top-25 caliber team it's faced all season. And for as much progress the Card have made against teams outside the Top 40 – made evident in the season's first five weeks -- the distance the Card have yet to go manifest itself most clearly Saturday night in Corvallis.

Stanford trailed 21-0 barely 20 minutes in, and 31-7 after a first half in which the Card defense was absolutely ineffective against James, and especially Jacquizz, Rodgers. The duo accounted for all five of Oregon State's touchdowns and combined for 417 all-purpose yards, with Jacquizz's four rushing touchdowns tying a school record. Stanford adjusted well in the second half (and Oregon State probably slowed up its offense a little too), but it was too little too late – the Card lacked a gamebreaker.

Make no mistake: the Card's top players held their own. Toby Gerhart was held under 100 yards for the first time this season, but did run for 96 yards, two touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu contributed 85 and 83 receiving yards respectively, with Owusu catching one touchdown pass and dropping a would-be second on the first play from scrimmage. Andrew Luck threw for 226 yards and two scores, albeit on 40 percent accuracy, and added 31 yards rushing. So Stanford's stars turned in days ranging from okay to solid, but none had a game-changing performance. It's one thing for Toby Gerhart or Chris Owusu or Andrew Luck, all of whom have had breakout games in the past, to take over against San Jose State or Washington State, but it's another all together to dominate against a team in contention for the Pac-10 title, as the Card found out tonight.

If Stanford's first half was indicative of how the Card will play against top Pac-10 teams, it's going to be a mighty long October and November on the Farm. With most of the opponents left on the schedule on the same level of competition as Oregon State, a bowl game is no guarantee, as Notre Dame would likely be the only contest in which Stanford is favored.

However, if Stanford can play at a similar level as it did in the second half, this is a team that can go toe-to-toe with the next couple of opponents on the schedule – Arizona and Arizona State. If Stanford loses to that duo, it's hard to see how the Card would beat Oregon, Cal or USC, so kiss a bowl game goodbye. 5-7. If the Card are good enough to sweep the Desert State, though, maybe USC and Oregon are the only uphill battles left on the schedule. 8-4.

Such is the reality for a team that's gone 4-1 against five okay teams, and then gotten beat badly by a good team. In reality, this week raised more questions than it answered – how should the depth chart look, how confident should the fan base be in its gameday coaching, and, most importantly, just how good is this team? The good news for impatient fans out there is that the next two games will be the most revealing on the schedule. Wins there, or even a split, can make today's first half a distant memory, instead of a season-defining turn for the worse.

That's our take. Here is a listing of post-game stories from around the country, courtesy a certain venture started by a couple of Stanford students: Stanford-Oregon State stories


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