Stanford's Andrew Luck threw for 3 touchdowns to beat Oregon St. 38-13. It was Luck's first ever win in the state of Oregon, in his third try. (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Final Score: Stanford 38 Oregon St. 13
It took until well into the third quarter, but eventually Stanford took full control, and handed Oregon St. a 38-13 beat down on a rainy afternoon in Reser Stadium.
Late in the third quarter, the Beavers trailed only 17-13, despite an earlier controversial contact call on Jordan Poyer that caused a 10 point swing in the second quarter, and appeared to be on their way possibly to take the lead. But a holding penalty on Marcus Wheaton wiped out much of what Brandin Cooks had gained, and killed the drive.
The Cardinal, led by Stepfan Taylor, proceeded to drive 82 yards for the touchdown that opened the lead to 24-13. Taylor had 39 yards rushing, including a 24 yard gain, on the drive, and then finished the drive with a 27 yard touchdown reception from Andrew Luck.
Oregon St. quarterback Sean Mannion proceeded to suffer one of his three sacks on the afternoon, and fumble the ball. Three rushes later, Luck threw his third and final touchdown pass of the day, this one a 14 yarder to Coby Fleenor, and Stanford had opened the lead to 31-13.The Beavers couldn't get a drive going, but it looked like they still had a chance to mount a rally when Johnny Kekkar's punt pinned the Cardinal at their own 5 yard line. But Stanford crushed that thought, putting together a 95 yard drive that took 13 plays, and burned off over 7 minutes, before Tyler Gaffney's 10 yard touchdown run made it 38-13, and put the game away.
It had looked like another Giant Killing might be in the offing early, as Oregon St. DE Scott Crichton pressured Luck, and LB Michael Doctor picked off the errant throw, below, that resulted, only the fifth interception Luck has suffered all season.
But the Beavers couldn't capitalize, and Luck immediately made amends with an 11 play, 92 yard scoring drive that kept the ball away from Oregon St. for well over 6 minutes. The Beavers did shut out Stanford in the first quarter for the first time since they defeated the Cardinal 38-28 in 2009, but Jeremy Stewart scored from 2 yards out on the first play of the second period.
Oregon St. went 3 and punt, as Mannion threw a completion for 0 yards to Tyler Anderson on third down and 2.
Luck delivered another clock eating 13 play drive, capped by a 17 yard completion to Griff Whalen, above, for a 14-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
Oregon St. finally decided to involve James Rodgers in the offense, and two completions produced 46 yards, and a touchdown, below, which cut the deficit in half.
For some reason, Rodgers didn't touch the ball again until the second half, though.
It appeared Oregon St. had pulled even with Stanford on the second play of the following drive, when Cardinal WR Chris Owuso, who was involved in last week's controversial contact call involving USC and TJ McDonald, caught a swing pass from Luck, turned up field, and encountered Poyer, below.
Poyer leveled Owuso, knocked the ball loose, tracked the ball down, scooped it up, and romped into the end zone. But Poyer was penalized for helmet to helmet contact, though it wasn't the initial contact on the play, and after review, the officials announced there was also no fumble, despite the fact that the ball had been bouncing around on the ground, as seen below.
Owuso went to the hospital with a concussion, and Stanford proceeded to drive into position to kick a field goal with 31 seconds left in the first half. The 17-7 lead held up into the halftime break when the Cardinal blocked Trevor Romaine's 50 yard field goal as the clock ran out.
Oregon St. scored on the first drive of the third quarter, on a 2 yard run by Malcolm Agnew, below. A 42 yard completion from Mannion to TE Joe Halahuni, above, set up the score. But Stanford blocked Romaine's conversion kick, and the deficit remained 4 points.
It was as close as the Beavers would get. After holding Stanford, the drive cut short by the phantom holding penalty happened, and the Cardinal proceeded to beat down the Beavers physically and mentally.
Stanford's Andrew Luck (12) finds Stepfan Taylor (33) for the touchdown that opened
an 11 point Cardinal lead late in the third quarter.
Mannion finished having completed 18 of 30 passes, for 252 yards, and while he didn't throw any interceptions, he was sacked 3 times, all for sizable amounts, and a loss of 27 yards, and the fumble that led to a Stanford score.
Luck also threw 30 passes, and completed 20 of them, for only 206 yards, and there was the early interception. But 3 of his throws went for touchdowns.
The real difference was in the running game, where Taylor, who ran for a game high 95 yards, led the Cardinal to 300 yards rushing. The Beavers, in contrast, only ran for 60 yards before subtracting Mannion's sacks. Wheaton was the leading rusher, with 19 yards on 2 fly sweeps, one of which lost 2 yards. Wheaton, Rodgers, and Cooks (below), combined for 40 of the 60 yards. Agnew accumulated only 15 yards on 8 carries.
Stanford's ability to run the ball at will and at length led to a more than 2 to 1 time of possession ratio, which limited Rodgers to just 9 touches, and that was more than any other Beaver besides Mannion. Rodgers led the Beavers in receiving, with 77 yards on 6 catches.
Whalen led the Cardinal, also with 6 catches, for 87 yards.
In addition to losing the oft-injured Owuso, the Cardinal also lost TE Levine Toilolo on the scoring play at the beginning of the second quarter, which could prove costly the rest of the season, given they have already lost TE Zach Ertz as well, depending on the severity of Toilolo's injury.
Owuso had full range of motion after the collision, but was held for observation. Toilolo walked off the field, but was taken to the locker room, and no announcement has been made yet regarding his condition.
Hekker, above, was the Beavers' player of the game, with 5 punts for 220 yards, including a 65 yarder, and three others that pinned the Cardinal at their 18, 5, and 8 yard lines.
42,835 showed up despite the cold rainy weather (quite a few more tickets were sold), but most were gone well before the teams cleared their benches in the fourth quarter.
The Beavers did play better than last week against Utah, who won again today, defeating Arizona 34-21 in Tucson. Mannion avoided throwing any interceptions, and suffered fewer sacks, but held the ball too long at times, which produced a couple of the sacks.
And the total lack of a viable rushing game gave them no chance to upset any quality opponent, never mind the #4 team in the country.
The defense generally played fairly well, considering the quality of opposition. Poyer, Rashaad Reynolds, and Ryan Murphy all had some solid plays down field, but there were several problems where a receiver was completely unaccounted for by the coverage, something Luck was quick to take advantage of. And while Luck was pressured into several disrupted throws, he was never sacked.
The linebackers improved noticeably since last week, but the defensive line was manhandled all afternoon by the Stanford offensive line.
Stanford (9-0, 7-0) extended their nation's best winning streak to 17 games, and their run of covering the spread to 11 consecutive contests. They are also 9-0 for the first time since 1950. It was Luck's first win as a starting quarterback in the state of Oregon, after losing in each of his first two visits. The Cardinal also topped 35 points for the 20th. time in 22 games over the last 2 seasons. Stanford hosts Oregon next week, possibly with the Pac-12 Northern Division effectively at stake.
Oregon St. (2-7, 2-4) has now been eliminated from any chance of a bowl game, and is assured of their second consecutive losing season. It's the first time either has happened prior to the end of the regular season since 1998, the second year of coach Mike Riley's second season.
The Beavers have now lost 12 of their last 16 games (75%), and 16 of their last 23, dating back to season before last.
Oregon St. travels to San Francisco next week, to meet California (5-4, 2-4) at AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants. The Golden Bears, who destroyed Washington St. 30-7 today, also at AT&T, are in the process of rebuilding Memorial Stadium in Berkeley.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)