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2015 Stanford Cardinal football: Oregon defeats Stanford 38 to 36

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Oregon ends Stanford’s playoff hopes with a dynamic offense, timely defense, a missed field goal, and two fumbled snaps.

Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

First Quarter
Stanford opened the game with a big dose of Christian McCaffrey, pounding the ball inside, pitching it outside, and seemingly picking up yards at will. Devon Cajuste made an excellent diving catch, and Michael Rector made a good snag to secure an important first down. Then a holding penalty stalled the drive, and the Cardinal had to settle for a field goal.

The Cardinal defense stuffed Royce Freeman for a loss of four on Oregon's first offensive play, but then Freeman found a giant running lane in the middle of the field for 49. Another big run put Oregon at the Stanford 20. After six running plays, Oregon was in the end zone.

Oregon looked to stall Stanford's second drive after the first three plays. On third down, the officials—very questionably—ruled that Michael Rector was out of bounds while making an incredible catch on the sideline. Fortunately for Stanford, an equally questionable personal foul penalty on Oregon gave Stanford a first down. Stanford faced third-and-three from Oregon's 22 and lined up with Kevin Hogan in the shotgun and Daniel Marx in the backfield. It was a designed run for Hogan, who dodged right and picked up the first down easily. Then he juked a few defenders, shrugged off a few brutal attempts to tackle him, and burst into the end zone for a touchdown.

Oregon needed only one play for another six points, with Charles Nelson running immediately to the outside and following the sideline all the way to paydirt.

Stanford opened its third drive with more McCaffrey, running for ten and four yards to end the first quarter with a score of Oregon 14, Stanford 10.

Second Quarter
A false start backed Stanford up, but McCaffrey picked up eight, and then Remound Wright dove over the pile to pick up the first down. A beautiful play action pass to Cajuste picked up 21. Then a Hogan pass bounced off McCaffrey's chest and into the hands of an Oregon linebacker for an interception.

Oregon took over at around its own 30. A holding penalty backed Oregon up, but Ronnie Harris was injured on the play, holding his left ankle. Fortunately, the Stanford defense came through, sacking Vernon Adams on third-and-nine to force a punt.

A short punt set Stanford up at its own 42. An illegal shift penalty threatened to kill the drive, but Michael Rector made an incredible adjustment on an underthrown ball from Hogan to pick up a deep strike into Oregon territory. On first-and-goal, Rector was held and pushed out of bounds, but no flag was thrown. It didn't matter; McCaffrey took the next handoff up the middle for 11 yards for a touchdown.

Freeman returned to the game on Oregon's next drive. On a crucial play, Stanford wrapped Adams up in the backfield, and the ball flew out of Adams's hand into Kevin Anderson's. Anderson returned it inside the Oregon ten.

The ensuing possession stalled when Hogan threw a good pass to Greg Taboada. Taboada couldn't hang on, but only because his defender had grabbed him with both hands, with one stretching the front of Taboada's jersey and the other pulling Taboada away from the football from the back. This was absolutely the sort of penalty that needs to be called every single time, no matter how much the officials are "letting them play," but there was no flag, and Stanford settled for a field goal. The four points left on the field would turn out to be critical.

Oregon started fast on its next drive, crossing midfield despite a negative play. Then Adams hit a wide open Darren Carrington for a 47-yard touchdown. The extra point gave Oregon the lead.

A nice kickoff return from McCaffrey took Stanford out to the 35. Then two McCaffrey runs took Stanford quickly into Oregon territory with thirteen seconds left. After the offense picked up a few more yards, Conrad Ukropina hit a field goal to give Stanford a 23-21 lead at the break.

Third Quarter
Charles Nelson returned the opening kickoff to the 33. A 34-yard catch-and-run set Oregon up in Stanford territory. Freeman took a 19-yard carry into the end zone for a touchdown.

Stanford started at its own 27. Stanford opened up a promising drive, but Oregon stopped Stanford on a third-and-three at the Oregon 26. Ukropina missed the 43-yard field goal.

The Cardinal defense stuffed Royce Freeman for a 6-yard loss on third down on the next drive, forcing another Oregon punt, which set Stanford up at their own 36 after a fair catch.

A holding call backed Stanford up to first-and-twenty. An eight-yard completion to Rollins Stallworth set up third-and-ten. Hogan was sacked to force Stanford's first punt of the game.

Stanford's defense let a big first down go, but then made two big stops. A terrible personal foul call, though, gave Oregon an automatic first down. Alijah Holder made a clean tackle on Taj Griffin well in bounds but was inexplicably called for a late hit out of bounds. Instead of facing third-and-seven from its own 36, Oregon had a first down just inside Stanford territory. On the gift-wrapped first down, Adams threw a strike to Taj Griffin, who juked a few defenders on his way into the end zone for a 49-yard touchdown.

A heavy dose of McCaffrey took Stanford into Oregon territory to end the quarter with Stanford trailing 35-23 and things looking bleak.

Fourth Quarter
More McCaffrey and play action to Stallworth set Stanford up at the Oregon 23. Another great throw to Stallworth delivered first-and-goal at the four. On third-and-goal, Hogan hit Taboada for a touchdown. Oregon's odd immunity to defensive penalties was finally overcome: the officials called Oregon for obvious pass interference, but it didn't matter because Taboada caught the ball.

Oregon picked up a quick first down. Then Kevin Anderson and Brennan Scarlett combined to sack Adams and force a punt from Oregon's 23.

Stanford took over at its own 48. There was a quick fumbled snap, and Oregon dove on the ball to take over. The Stanford defense came up big to force a field goal, but Oregon led by eight with 5:12 to go.

Hogan hit Rector for 17 on the first play of the next drive. Another pass to Dalton Schultz for 17 took Stanford into Oregon territory. And then a pass to McCaffrey for another 18. On third-and-one, Stanford's bread and butter, another bad snap ended up in Oregon's hands for a backbreaking turnover.

Oregon's next possession went backwards. Royce Freeman was stopped for a loss. A short gain took Oregon back to the original line of scrimmage, and then Adams was sacked for a loss of nine. On the punt, McCaffrey ran into a blocker and was stopped at midfield.

On first down, Hogan missed Michael Rector on a deep shot. Trent Irwin stepped up and caught a pass, despite taking a rough hit after he caught the ball, for fourteen yards and picked up a first down. Then Hogan missed Irwin wide open down the field for what would have been a touchdown. Michael Rector made a great catch to pick up a first down on the next play, and then Hogan spiked the ball. Oregon was called for another defensive penalty, interfering with Devon Cajuste in the end zone. Then Oregon was called for an illegal substitution. On the next play, Hogan hit Taboada for a touchdown. Stanford went for two to tie the game. Hogan took the shotgun snap and looked for Austin Hooper at the front of the end zone. But an unblocked defender hit Hogan as he released the ball, the throw was low and behind Hooper. A diving Joe Walker may have gotten a hand on the ball as well. The score was Oregon 38, Stanford 36, with ten seconds left.

Stanford failed to convert an onside kick, resulting in the Oregon win.

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A slightly different take on Mark Rogers TV: