#7 Stanford (4-0) was down the entire game to #20 Oregon (3-1) on Saturday night in front of a sellout crowd at Autzen Stadium, and showed tremendous heart in the epic comeback win. On that same level, this battle exemplified why college football is so very exciting, and why no game is ever truly decided until the end.
Cardinal junior quarterback K.J. Costello (19 for 26 passing / 327 yards / 3 TD’s / 95.5 QBR) threw a back-shoulder jump ball to 6’7” sophomore tight end Colby Parkinson (3 receptions / 50 yards / 1 TD / 16.7 YPR) on the first possession of overtime, which turned out to be the game winning score. Parkinson used his long arms and massive frame to tip the the pass over and through two Ducks defenders, and eventually back to himself. It was a special play, though just one of many from the most talented tight end duo in the country.
His counterpart, 6’6” Stanford junior TE Kaden Smith (6 receptions / 95 yards / 15.8 YPR), was Costello’s sure thing in the air attack all day. Both Smith and Parkinson will be suiting up on Sundays in the near future, as will a bunch of other kids who played in this game, stay tuned folks.
In terms of the very end, it was fitting that the elite Stanford secondary was able to seal the victory for their side in overtime. Senior cornerback Alijah Holder (5 tackles / 2 PD / 1 TFL) made an incredibly athletic play to dive on a slant route, and tip the pass in to the air. Harmoniously, fellow senior DB Alameen Murphy (4 tackles / 2 PD / 1 INT) was able to come down with the deflection, and finally decide the contest.
Also in that same secondary, Cardinal super sophomore cornerback Paulson Adebo (7 tackles / 5 PD) was a menace to the Ducks passing attack, and made several big plays late that directly impacted the result.
The deepest irony in the win, by far, was Oregon native and Stanford senior outside linebacker Joey Alfieri (4 tackles / 2 QBH / 1 FR / 1 TD) scooping a fumbled snap and going 80 yards for a defensive touchdown that gave the Cardinal ‘Uncle Mo’ for the first time on the evening. As it turns out, Alfieri became a Stanford commit after his recruiting trip to Oregon, when he watched the two teams play each other from the sideline. So, I would say irony it is.
His fellow senior Cardinal linebackers Bobby Okereke (9 tackles / 3 TFL / 1 sack / 1 QBH / 1 PD) and Sean Barton (8 tackles / 1 FR / 1 PD) also embodied their “intellectual brutality” creed, especially in the 2nd half. Equally, junior OLB Jordan Fox (9 tackles / 2 TFL / 2 QBH /1.5 sacks) had his most impressive game thus far for The Card.
The Ducks committed all resources on defense, as has each Stanford opponent so far in ’18, to stopping All-World running back Bryce “Dr.” Love (19 carries / 89 yards / 1 TD / 4.7 YPC / 122 all-purpose yards). Oregon was fairly successful in that endeavor, by Love’s standards anyhow, but his quality pass protection was again the difference for this offense.
“The Doctor” added ten pounds of muscle in the offseason, in order to take on blitzing linebackers in those specific protection situations. The move has paid off handsomely in the passing attack for Stanford.
Likewise, as I wrote about Cardinal senior wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (4 receptions / 84 yards / 2 TD’s / 21.0 YPR) last week, “All he does is catch touchdowns”. Well, he caught two more against their PAC-12 north rival this week. That gives him 7 TD’s in four games, and I would say he’s officially ‘red’ hot.
Another game changing play for Stanford was sophomore safety Noah Williams (6 tackles / 1 FF / 1 PD) stripping Oregon RB CJ Verdell with just 51 seconds remaining in the 4th quarter and Stanford trailing by 3, allowing Sean Barton to instinctively jump on the loose ball. The Cardinal then proceeded to drive the length of the field, and Jet Toner nailed the field goal to send it to overtime. From there, it is American history.
Giving credit where credit is due, Oregon juniors QB Justin Herbert (26 for 33 passing / 346 yards / 1 TD / 1 INT / 86.4 QBR) and wide receiver Dillon Mitchell (14 catches / 239 yards / 17.1 YPC) propelled the Ducks to a commanding 1st half lead with their outstanding play, and still finished with very classy numbers on the night.
#7 Stanford (4-0 / 2-0 PAC 12) is “On The Road Again” next week at #8 Notre Dame (4-0), while the #19 Ducks (3-1 / 0-1 PAC 12) have another legitimate test as well at #24 CAL (3-0 / 0-0 PAC 12). Both matchups will be well worth watching, write it down.
Win or lose, Roll Red.