Oregon vs. Stanford Instant Analysis

    Instant Analysis on the Oregon victory over Stanford to all but kill the Pac-12's playoff hopes.

    November 15, 2015


    1. Payback time

    It took a couple of years, but Oregon has gotten its revenge on Stanford for derailing recent national title runs.

    After the Ducks stumbled to the Cardinal as a heavy favorite in 2012 and 2013, it became abundantly clear that the former had a Stanford problem. Tonight on the Farm, the Cardinal had an Oregon problem.

    With the roles reversed, it was Stanford this time who stumbled in November. And while the Cardinal’s magic number for winning the Pac-12 North still sits at one, the quest for a playoff berth pretty much ended at the hands of an emerging rival. With two losses, including one to an unranked Duck team, Stanford isn’t making it into the top four, regardless of what happens against Notre Dame on Nov. 28 and in Santa Clara a week later. And that makes the second biggest lose tonight …

    2. … the Pac-12 Conference.

    If the Pac-12 was going to send a representative to this year’s playoff, it really needed Stanford to carry the banner throughout the month of November and into the first Saturday of December. Beat Notre Dame and close the season on a 12-game winning streak—you couldn’t possibly keep that team out of the mix, right? But after the way the Cardinal performed tonight, it’s no longer even a debate topic.

    If the Pac-12 has any hope of being represented in on New Year’s Eve, it all hinges on … Utah. Yup, the Utes are the league’s final one-loss team, though that’s in jeopardy as well at the time of this writing.

    Strange year in the Pac-12. The conference almost universally considered No. 2 behind the SEC is unlikely to participate in the game’s most prized event, with parity ruling the landscape. Bad news for league commissioner Larry Scott, though the Rose Bowl folks will be tickled that at least half of its matchup will have a traditional feel to it.

    3. Mark Helfrich deserves a ton of credit

    This season won’t likely end with a title, but the entire Oregon coaching staff has done a bang-up job in the second half of the year.

    Following an Oct. 10 loss to Washington State—at home—the Ducks were through. They were 3-3, fading fast and hearing talk of the end of a dynasty. This team, so accustomed to playoff-style football in November, could have packed it in. Instead, it has rallied around the healthy return of QB Vernon Adams and a staff that knew exactly what buttons to push.

    The Ducks became the first team all season to score more than 35 points on Stanford. They didn’t have the ball much, but they struck quickly, in vintage Oregon style, with five plays of at least 30 yards. And an O-line, which was spotty at times earlier in the year, continued to flourish.

    Oregon was an afterthought a month ago. Today, the Ducks are still in the North Division race with a couple of games left. An improbable about-face without a group of coaches keeping players focused when the team hits a rough patch in the season.

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