The Stanford Cardinal completely shook up the landscape of the Pac-12 and the nation with their impressive 17-14 overtime victory over the No. 2-ranked Oregon Ducks on Saturday.
The Cardinal came into Autzen Stadium with a game plan. They wanted to play their own brand of hard-nosed power football on both sides of the ball. In an outstanding all-around performance, Stanford met their goal, holding Oregon’s offense (which was averaging 55 points per game) to a mere 14 points.
On the other side of the ball, Kevin Hogan appears to be the real deal. Aside from a couple of mistakes (not to mention a lucky break on his fumble in overtime), Hogan impressed all night. While the Ducks consistently made their way into the backfield, he repeatedly kept plays alive, often finding his reliable tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo. Hogan proved on Saturday to have a level of comfort in the pocket in a hostile environment beyond his level of experience.
Stepfan Taylor also succeeded in grinding away at the Oregon defense. He carried the ball 33 times for 161 yards, and his success became visibly discouraging for the Ducks’ front seven as the game wore on.
Currently ranked at No. 8, the Cardinal have only one regular season game left to play. Because they are still ranked lower than No. 5 Oregon in the BCS standings, many are wondering where Stanford stands.
Next week the Cardinal take on a hot UCLA team that is coming off of a big win over local rival USC to clinch the Pac-12 South division. If Stanford can take down the No. 17 Bruins, the two squads will again square off, this time in Palo Alto, in the Pac-12 championship game.
As long as the Cardinal beat UCLA next week, they will win the Pac-12 North over Oregon because, though both teams only have one conference loss, Stanford beat the Ducks in their head-to-head matchup.
However, if the Bruins beat Stanford next week while Oregon beats Oregon State, it will be the Ducks that host the Pac-12 championship game against UCLA.
Keep an eye on next week’s Pac-12 matchups, as they will go a long way in dictating who will play for the conference championship and, in the long run, who will represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl.