To say this game was an emotional roller coaster for both teams is an understatement. Oregon had their way with Stanford for the majority of the game on both sides of the ball.
Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert was 26 for 33 and threw for 346 yards to wide open receivers all night. When he wasn’t tossing the ball to wide open receivers, he rushed for 35 yards, handed CJ Verdell 20 carries for 115 yards, experiencing minimal pressure from the Cardinal defense in the first half.
The defensive and offensive line for Oregon took Stanford’s brand of physical football and rammed it down Stanford’s throat to open the game.
Stanford continued in the first half to try and run Heisman contender Bryce Love but had little success. Stanford’s offensive line was slow and even the patience of Bryce Love, could not hold out for plays that were slow to develop. Oregon did not necessarily crowd the box but was physical at the line of scrimmage and was able to stop any significant gains from Love for the majority of the night, finishing with 89 yards and one touchdown.
Then, the tone of the game changed, late in the third quarter when Portland native, Joey Alfieri scooped and scored off of a fumble by Oregon and ran 80 yards to make the score 24-14. The fumble and score followed an overturned touchdown, giving Stanford a 14-point swing in their favor. Three plays before the score were 31-7, but after review, the officials called back Oregon’s touchdown, determining that Oregon’s Jaylon Redd was out of bounds.
Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello was able to shine in the second half, finishing 19 for 26, throwing for 327 yards and tossing three touchdowns on the night.
Late in the third quarter, Love ran for 22 yards and danced into the end zone to make it a 24-21 game. You could feel the air come out of Autzen stadium and all was tense for Oregon fans.
Fast forward to 1:02 left in the game, with the score 28-31, in what was all but over, Oregon runner CJ Verdell fumbles the ball, and Stanford recovers it with 51 seconds left. Autzen stadium goes almost silent. Oregon, who started the drive with a 99.5 percent chance of winning the game (according to ESPN)before his fumble, felt the chill in the stadium. All that was needed was for Verdell to grab the first down to run out the clock.
After spectacular throws from K.J. Costello to get into field goal range, Jet Toner secured the field goal, tying the ball game 31-31 as time ran out to force overtime.
Stanford secured the ball first, and Colby Parkinson made an incredible bobbled catch in the end zone, giving Stanford its first lead of the night 38-31.
Justin Herbert had one last series left for any hope to head to another overtime. His receivers, who were on absolute fire all night could not overcome Stanford’s secondary. A secondary highlighted by the heroics of corner Paulson Adebo, who recorded three breakups in OT. The Ducks last chance of victory, snuffed out by Alijah Holder picking off a tipped pass in the end zone.
Oregon from the start controlled the tempo and had the crowd to assist. The Ducks had questions coming into the game, despite being 3-0, but were tested a little too close for comfort by San Jose State the week before, winning by just 13 points.
It was the largest comeback win by Stanford under David Shaw in the eight seasons as head of the program. Herbert showed the country and NFL scouts what he’s truly made of with his hometown, nearly flawless performance.
Stanford will look back at the film and realize there’s still plenty of work to be done before going up against their next opponent no. 8 Notre Dame. Coach Brian Kelly looks to have found a new starting quarterback in Ian Book. Book proved to show he can have the pocket presence needed to capitalize on the Irish’s talented offense, which seemed limited under former starter Brandon Wimbush.
If Stanford can capture the rhythm they found in the second half on both sided of the ball, they may be able to push their way into a college playoff birth.
The Stanford Cardinal take on the Irish of Notre Dame on September 29th in South Bend.