The first major turning point in the game was right at the end of the first half, when the Beavs failed to convert 4th and 1 leaving 46 seconds on the clock for the Cardinal to charge down the field. So far in the game the Beaver defense had stymied Stanford, keeping the Cardinal scoreless. The series started off well for Oregon State, setting up a 3rd and 12 for the Cardinal. On that play Ty Montgomery streaked down the sideline past Rashaad Reynolds with a great leaping catch to convert a third down for the first time in the entire game. From there it only took four plays for Stanford to get into the end zone with a Tyler Gaffney touchdown. This changed the entire complexion of the game, Oregon State had maintained their slight advantage for all of the first half, but after that drive the Cardinal were in front and with how suffocating the Cardinal defense had been it felt like a greater deficit had been created.
The second and third major momentum shifts were the respective fumbles of the second half. The first fumble belonged to Victor Bolden which started the second half when he ran into his own teammate. The Beavs had just gotten down before half time, and they needed to at least force Stanford into poor field position, but instead the momentum only got stronger for the Cardinal. They would maintain their position, with some scoring back and forth. The clock continued to run as the Beavs and Cardinal traded punts and the game looked like it was comfortably in Stanford's grasp. Then on a sort of fluky play, Tyler Gaffney got the ball knocked out with minimal contact, which resulted in a Beaver field goal keeping the game to a one score game.
Number four was a short yardage stand by the Beavs, where if Stanford scored it would have been the game. The Beavs stuffed the line and Ryan Murphy leaped over the line to make contact and stop the runner. If the Beavs had won, this would have been the true turning point in the game. It would give the Beavs one last shot at tying the game, and it was a truely impressive stand against a strong Stanford offensive line.
The last change went to the final whistle though, when the Beavs had four shots at the end zone and came up empty. With so many of the games for Oregon State coming down to the end, it seemed like the Beavs could work some of that Mannion to Cooks magic and deliver the Beavers from another game. With four chances from seven yards out it seemed like Mannion could get the job done, but all four attempts would fall incomplete. The Beavs had improbably gotten the game to a situation where they could win it, and the crowd was just waiting to erupt, but the Cardinal did a fantastic job keeping out the Beavers.
In the end just enough of the critical plays fell to Stanford instead, and that is why they won the game.