Ducks 53, Cardinal 30: Oregon's speed, playmaking too much for Stanford, Luck
Ducks take command of Pac-12 Northern Division
STANFORD, Calif. - Oregon's supremacy remains intact.
The Ducks outclassed Stanford on its home field Saturday and stayed on track for another Bowl Championship Series appearance.
Darron Thomas threw three touchdown passes, two of them that De'Anthony Thomas and Josh Huff made into athletic scores, and LaMichael James scored one of his three TDs on a 58-yard run as the Ducks beat the Cardinal 53-30 in the eagerly anticipated matchup between highly ranked Pac-12 Conference teams.
"Everybody contributed," Oregon coach Chip Kelly said. "Our defense played fantastic."
"It was going to take our best game and I don't think we gave them our best game, and they took advantage of it," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "They're not a good team - they're a great team."
The Ducks (9-1, 7-0 Pac-12) surely will move up from their No. 7 spot in the BCS standings, by virtue of beating No. 4, Andrew Luck-led Stanford (9-1, 7-1) and Boise State losing earlier in the day to TCU.
A move up to third behind LSU and Oklahoma State wouldn't be a surprise, although Alabama and Oklahoma also are strong one-loss teams.
Oregon plays host to USC (8-2, 5-2) at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 at Autzen Stadium. Kelly said the Ducks would watch video of the Trojans on the way home from Stanford. "We've got a real good USC team coming to our place ... but if we can prepare like we have, that's what it's all about," he said.
Luck, a Heisman Trophy frontrunner, had three touchdown passes Saturday, but he hardly had a great game as the Ducks dashed his team's BCS national title hopes.
"That's a good football team," Kelly said, "and to come in here and do that, I give a lot of credit to our guys. They played with great effort."
Speed on both sides of the ball contributed to Oregon's big win at Stanford, which avenged the only league loss by Kelly in two-plus seasons - 51-42 at Stanford in 2009.
The Ducks led 22-16 at halftime, and quickly put some cushion on their lead. Kelly said Oregon knew having the first possession of the second half could be a key, if the Ducks could take advantage, and they did.
Darron Thomas found Huff - "Darron's fourth read" on the play, Kelly said - and Huff evaded would-be tacklers Terrence Brown and Michael Thomas en route to a pretty 59-yard catch-and-run touchdown. The UO lead was up to 29-16.
Trying to strike back, Stanford had to punt after Dion Jordan sacked Luck on third-and-1. But James made a rare mistake, muffing the punt, with Stanford recovering at the UO 34.
But Luck's bad luck continued, as Coby Fleener dropped a third-down pass. And, kicker Eric Whitaker missed a 48-yard field-goal attempt.
After a UO punt, Luck was sacked by Terrell Turner, and Brandon Hanna recovered at the Stanford 12. An overturned call on review took away David Paulson's TD reception - the second time the Ducks had a play overturned - but James scored on a 4-yard TD run and Oregon led 36-16.
"Our offense, after a kind of shaky first quarter, did some really good things," Kelly said. "Darron played really well and did a great job of managing the game. He didn't throw any interceptions, and put the ball on guys.
"Being balanced and not being a one-dimensional offense, for us, is the key."
The Cardinal marched downfield to close the gap. Luck threw a 2-yard TD pass to Jeremy Stewart, and it was 36-23.
But the Ducks couldn't be stopped by the Pac-12's best defense, statistically speaking, anyway.
James scored on a 1-yard TD run, and it was 43-23 in the first minute of the final quarter.
Stanford came back with several short and medium passes, and scored on a 1-yard run by Jeremy Stewart with 9:37 remaining.
Oregon added a field goal of 40 yards by Alejandro Maldonado with 5:09 to play, and the lead was 46-30.
Boseko Lokombo intercepted Luck and returned the pick 40 yards for another Oregon touchdown to make it 53-30.
James had 146 yards on 20 carries and the three scores and Thomas went 11 of 17 for 155 yards and three TDs. Luck finished 27 of 41 for 271 yards and three TDs, but the Ducks picked him off twice and sacked him three times.
Said Luck: "Worst game of the year, I guess."
Stepfan Taylor rushed for 99 yards on 23 carries, 20 totes coming in the first half.
"We played really hard today," James said. "The defense really came out to play, bend and no break. They got a lot of turnovers (five) and the offense moved the ball down the field. We just needed to get in a groove, and we did."
The defenses made some stops early in the game, before the two vaunted offenses got going. Stanford had 98 first-quarter yards to UO's minus-1, but the Ducks led 8-0 after one quarter.
Dewitt Stuckey made a big play when he stepped into a passing lane and picked off Luck, returning the ball to the Cardinal 20-yard line.
The Ducks scored when Thomas pinpointed a 4-yard TD pass to Lavasier Tuinei in the corner of the end zone. As they're prone to do, the Ducks went for two points, and got them when Paulson passed to Jeff Palmer.
Oregon appeared to get another turnover when Troy Hill stripped Tyler Gaffney at the UO 44. But the official review overturned the call, and Stanford took advantage. Mostly with the run - Taylor carried 20 times in the first half alone - the Cardinal marched for a touchdown.
Luck and Griff Whalen hooked up for the first time as the second quarter got underway, the receiver beating Hill on a 16-yard TD play. Whitaker's extra-point attempt went wide right.
The score started a frenzy of second-quarter points.
A holding penalty gave Oregon a first down, and the Ducks scored when James, who was bottled up early, found a hole on the left side of the line and ran virtually untouched 58 yards for the score, pushing the UO lead to 15-6.
The Ducks moved again, but freshman sensation De'Anthony Thomas coughed up a fumble, with the Cardinal recovering at their 45.
Not showing much dare, Stanford settled for a field goal on fourth down deep in UO territory, a 37-yarder by Whitaker, making it 15-9.
Darron Thomas threw 11 yards to Rahsaan Vaughn, and James ran for 15. Still, the Ducks faced fourth-and-7 after a couple minus-yardage plays.
No problem, with UO's bravado. Darron Thomas, about to be hit on the rush, dumped off a screen pass to De'Anthony Thomas, who sprinted for the 41-yard TD. Oregon led 22-9.
Luck got things going, after Stanford had spent much of the first half establishing the run. He completed 7 of 8 passes for all 84 Stanford yards on the ensuing drive, throwing 13 yards to Whalen for the touchdown with less than a minute left as the home team closed to within 22-16.
In the first half, James had 92 yards on 10 carries, and Thomas went 8 of 11 for 78 yards and two scores. Taylor had 20 carries for 87 yards, and Luck, thanks to his late burst, went 14 of 22 for 135 yards and two scores. Stanford outgained UO 246-184 and had 20:31 possession time to the Ducks' 9:29.
OREGON 8 14 14 17 -- 53
STANFORD 0 16 7 7 -- 30
OREGON -- 1st, 4:12: Lavasier Tuinei 4 pass from Darron Thomas (Jeff Palmer pass from David Paulson)
STANFORD -- 2nd, 13:51: Griff Whalen 16 pass from Andrew Luck (Eric Whitaker kick)
OREGON -- 2nd, 11:49: LaMichael James 58 run (Alejandro Maldonado kick)
STANFORD -- 2nd, 4:57: Eric Whitaker 37 FG
OREGON -- 2nd, 2:52: De'Anthony Thomas 41 pass from Thomas (Maldonado kick)
STANFORD -- 2nd, 0:24: Whalen 13 pass from Luck (Whitaker kick)
OREGON -- 3rd, 13:23: Josh Huff 59 pass from Thomas (Maldonado kick)
OREGON -- 3rd, 7:41: James 4 run (Maldonado kick)
STANFORD -- 3rd, 2:38: Jeremy Stewart 2 pass from Luck (Whitaker kick)
OREGON -- 4th, 14:02: James 1 run (Maldonado kick)
STANFORD -- 4th, 9:37: Stewart 1 run (Whitaker kick)
OREGON -- 4th, 5:09: Maldonado 40 FG
OREGON -- 4th, 4:28: Boseko Lokombo 40 interception return (Maldonado kick)