A year ago, the Cardinal dealt the Ducks their lone loss of the season and a potential trip to the National Championship game with a thrilling 17-14 overtime victory in Eugene. Oregon is undefeated again this year and has won every game by at least three touchdowns.
“I’m already done thinking about Oregon State and the effort tonight, but it wasn’t good enough to beat Oregon or good enough to be in the game against Oregon,” said David Shaw, the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football after Stanford’s hard-fought 20-12 victory at Oregon State on Saturday night. “We have a bunch of stuff that we need to make sure we do in the next 12 to 14 days to play one of the best teams in the nation.”
Jump-starting the offense will be a priority. With the exception of running back Tyler Gaffney, who paced the 7-1 Cardinal with 145 yards on 22 carries and three touchdowns, it was another uneven performance by the group, which produced only 88 yards passing, 13 first downs compared to Oregon State’s 23, and once again kept its defense on the field too long, the Beavers running 81 plays to Stanford’s 51, and piling up a 17-minute time of possession advantage.
“Offensively, we did not play well enough,” said Shaw. “Bottom line, we missed too many things in the passing game – quarterbacks, receivers, coach, blame us all.”
Fortunately, the Cardinal defense came up big, especially linebacker Trent Murphy, who collected 3.5 tackles for loss, 2.5 sacks, and blocked an extra point. Josh Mauro and Kevin Anderson also kept the heat on Beaver quarterback Sean Mannion.
Playing short-handed much of the way after losing Ben Gardner to a shoulder injury, Mauro posted 3.5 tackles for loss and 1.0 sack, while Anderson added 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks. All told, Stanford recorded 13.0 tackles for loss and 7.0 sacks, stopped Oregon State four of five times on fourth down – four times in Cardinal territory -- and limited the pass-happy Beavers to 17 net yards rushing.
“That’s a senior group that’s been a good unit for a long time,” said Oregon State head coach Mike Riley. “You have to be spot on against them and that’s why we had more negative plays than we’ve had all year and had a hard time sometimes with protection. That’s why they’re a good football team.”
Shaw gave much of the credit to Derek Mason, the Willie Shaw Director of Defense.
“It was a great game plan by coach Mason,” he said. “We executed very well. I thought we played extremely well against the No. 1 quarterback and No. 1 receiver in the nation. We knew they were going to make some plays, but to hold them down was phenomenal.”
Mannion completed 41 of 57 passes for 271 yards and one touchdown, while Brandin Cooks had nine receptions for 80 yards. But the Cardinal did a nice job containing both.
“We’ve said since the beginning of the season that we have to have guys that are ready to play,” said inside linebacker Shayne Skov. “Going into the season we found ourselves having great depth and now it’s time for that to show. Hopefully the guys that are banged up can get healthier for the next game.”
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How upcoming opponents fared: Oregon 42, UCLA 14; USC 19, Utah 3; Washington 41, Cal 17; Notre Dame 45, Air Force 10.
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The Oregon game is a sellout, although some standing room-only tickets are available … Stanford has now forced a turnover in 33 consecutive games, the second-longest streak in the country behind Missouri (38) … Inside linebacker A.J. Tarpley finished with a game and career-high 13 tackles … Punter Ben Rhyne had a busy night, kicking seven times and finished with a 40-yard average … PK Jordan Williamson missed his second straight game with a pulled muscle in … Stanford professor Michael Longaker was the honorary captain.
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