Stanford Makes A Statement For A BCS Berth

Andrew Luck completed 21 of 30 passes against Oregon St., for 305 yards, in a 38-0 win. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)

Final Score: Stanford 38 Oregon St. 0

Stanford made a statement for a BCS berth, and with both Boise St. and LSU having been upset this weekend, it was probably a good enough one. The Cardinal routed Oregon St. 38-0, behind strong performances by both their offense, especially Andrew Luck (above) in the passing game, and their defense.

The Cardinal started by putting together long 10 play touchdown drives on both of their first two possessions, added 10 more points before halftime, for a 24-0 lead at the break, and coasted home to the 38 point win.

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Stanford's Doug Baldwin hauls in a 42 yard touchdown pass despite the efforts of

Oregon St.'s Suaesi Tuimaunei.

Luck completed 70% of his passes, 21 of 30, for 317 yards, and 4 touchdowns. Meanwhile, the Stanford defense was throttling Oregon St. The Cardinal allowed only 285 yards, and just 68 rushing. With sacks figured in, the Beavers managed only 19 rushing yards in the first half.

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Jacquizz Rodgers, (1, above) who had his career best day last year at Stanford's expense, was a marked man, and was held to 107 total yards, and just 76 on the ground, on 17 carries.

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Richard Sherman grabs one of three interceptions of Ryan Katz to deny an Oregon St. score.

More importantly, Stanford forced five turnovers, including three interceptions of Ryan Katz, as well as blocking a punt, and recording 4 sacks, while Luck and company were playing turnover free ball. One appeared to be after Aaron Nichols was down by contact, and Oregon St. coach Mike Riley even called timeout to stress that point, but by that juncture the game was out of hand.

It was the first shutout Oregon St. has suffered in over 8 years, since a 22-0 loss to USC on 9/28 of 2002. It was also the Beavers worst loss in over 5 years, since the 56-14 Oregon win in the 2005 Civil War on 11/19, which was the last time Oregon St. finished with a losing record, recording only 5 wins that year, after a loss to Stanford the week before.

Luck had 226 of his passing yards, and three of his four touchdown passes in the first half, a good thing for the Cardinal considering the Beaver defense actually played pretty well against the run.

Stanford only amassed 165 rushing yards, despite going to a most run clock eating plan much of the second half, and had just 51 yards on the ground at halftime. Stepfan Taylor finished with 115 of the Cardinal's 165 yards, but 65 of those came on a single scoring burst up the middle (below) 2/3 of the way through the third quarter.

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Katz suffered a very erratic evening, completing only 19 of 36 passes, and missing badly on a number of his throws, as well as getting knocked out of the game for a while. Cody Vaz fared no better, completing only 4 of 10 throws.

Not all of either quarterback's incompletions were their fault though, as several good passes on good play calls were simply dropped, and it directly cost points. Something a team as good as Stanford always capitalizes on.

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Marcus Wheaton had 5 catches, but missed a touchdown above.

The Oregon St. receiving corp was never able to be the threat to Stanford that would have made the game an actual contest. Nichols led the Beavers with 5 catches, but for only 53 yards. Marcus Wheaton added 5 more catches, but for only 40 yards. The only two pass plays that went for as much as 20 yards were to John Reese and Joe Halahuni. Halahuni only had two catches.

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Joe Halahuni makes one of only two catches he recorded against Stanford.

The inability of Oregon St. to stretch the Stanford secondary allowed the Cardinal to continually crunch Quizz, whose' longest run of the night was for 12 yards.

It wasn't a case of coming out "flat", as the game was hard hitting, and there was a lot of hard work, even after the only things of interest left were the colorful characters in the Cardinal crowd.

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Stanford's Owen Marecic, an Oregon native, has an unusual fan club.

It was a case of poor communications at times, poor tackling, and the Beavs being totally frustrated by Stanford's overall efficiency. The Cardinal were winning the battles all over the field, and Oregon St. had no clue about what they might be able to successfully do about it.

Stanford had a hand of course in the Beavers' problems, as coach Jim Harbaugh had a solid plan. The Cardinal's use of their tight ends to tie up Oregon St.'s safeties, even when the play went no where near them, produced a number of their big plays. It was a problem never adjusted for while the game was still being actually contested, leaving corners with 30 yards to cover side line to side line. Easy pickings for any quarterback, never mind the best one in the Pac-10, who may not need to come back for his junior year in order to land a top five NFL draft slot.

What was reinforced, as Oregon St. faced their third top seven team, with another to come, and their fifth top tier quarterback, and lost to all of them, is that an injection of team speed is mandatory before the Beavers can hope to move into that next level. Waiting for some of this quality of opponents to graduate their stars won't work, as the kind of programs that are beating the Beavers will reload. Being beat up hasn't helped down the stretch, but it has underscored that quality depth is a problem, because there is no better alternative to struggling starters to turn to.

Oregon St. (5-6, 4-4) returns home for the Civil War, against top ranked Oregon (11-0, 8-0), and must upset the Ducks to avoid missing a bowl game for the first time since that 2005 team.

Stanford (11-1, 8-1) must await the BCS selections in a week to see if they can get beyond the Alamo Bowl. If they wind up ranked in the top 4 in the BCS, they will receive a mandatory at large berth. The political problem, assuming Oregon wins next week, is that Wisconsin, who trailed Stanford in this week's BCS ratings, could climb past the Cardinal, after posting a 70-23 win over Northwestern, into the #4 position.

That would send the Badgers to the Rose Bowl, but also open the door to Ohio St. and Michigan St. to receive at large berths, as well as TCU. If Auburn falls to South Carolina, the Tigers will still get an at large berth, and the fact that Stanford couldn't come close to filling up their own stadium, the nicest one in the conference, will become a major consideration compared to the huge contingents the Buckeyes, Spartans, and Tigers will bring to a bowl.

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Only 38,775 turned out tonight, and a significant number of those were Oregon St. fans. This on senior night for a group that turned a 1-11 team into an 11-1 one. Stanford fans that showed up were solid, but it is beyond understanding how a team this good hasn't captured the favor of a larger segment of a very large community and alumni base. A group that accomplished what the Cardinal players have transplanted to Corvallis, Eugene, Seattle, or Tucson, would have had an overflow crowd that would have produced a deafening ovation. Saturday in Palo Alto, with no access to their record, you would have thought Stanford had just concluded a 7-5 season, and earned a Las Vegas Bowl bid.

(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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