Tyler Gaffney set a school record with 45 carries because Stanford's offensive line mistreated Oregon's defensive line, pushing the Ducks around like a set of electric football figures. Gaffney's 157 rushing yards, and his touchdown, were a product of that dominance.
The sixth-ranked Cardinal repeated its upset victory of a year ago with a similar script, beating No. 2 Oregon, 26-20, Thursday night in a Pac-12 Conference contest that will go a long way to deciding who represents the North Division in the Pac-12 title game scheduled for Dec. 7.
"As a whole, we did what we needed to do and that was to keep Oregon's offense off the field," Gaffney said. "The offensive line kept pushing them back a few yards and I lowered my shoulder and hoped for the best."
Stanford held the ball for over 42 minutes and took a 26-0 lead early in the fourth quarter and it still had to come down to final on-side kick recovery for the Cardinal. Senior wide receiver Jeff Trojan came up big twice to hold off the Ducks.
"You all know they were going to make a run," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "That's who this team is. We were ready for it, we knew it was going to happen, and then it started. It didn't feel like it was ever going to end. Thankfully Jeff Trojan stepped up for us at the end."
Guys like Trojan and tight end Charlie Hopkins, making a key block for Gaffney, were just as important for Stanford as offensive linemen Andrus Peat, David Yankey, Khalil Wilkes, Kevin Danser and Cameron Fleming were in controlling the line of scrimmage.
"To keep handing the ball off with the big guys up front, they did one heck of a job," Shaw said. "We're a big, physical team and we play well together. We let our guys tee off in the running game and they did a good job."
Stanford (6-1 in the Pac-12, 8-1 overall) must still get past USC next weekend in Los Angeles and then take care of business against California before securing its berth in the Pac-12 championship game.
"It's November and it's time to play our best football," Shaw said. "No one has seen our best yet, and that includes us. We can't be satisfied with the way this game ended and the way we finished. Our conference is really hard. If you take a week off, you see what happens in Utah."
Henry Anderson came back in a big way for Stanford, playing his first game since getting hurt against Army. He recorded five tackles and was credited for half a sack.
"It was awesome to have Henry back," Stanford linebacker A.J. Tarpley said. "It looked like he didn't miss a beat. He brought a spark for us."
Jordan Williamson returned after missing two games and connected on four field goals and a couple of extra points.
Kevin Hogan also turned in a solid performance, passing for 103 yards, 47 coming on one key play to Mike Rector that set up Stanford's first touchdown. He also rushed for 57 yards, including an 11-yard scoring run.
"We just wanted to be good on third downs and keep the chains moving," Hogan said. "We put together some good drives."
Hogan attempted three passes in the second half, none in the fourth quarter. But he directed a pair of 96-yard drives that resulted in points when the defense came up big.
Shayne Skov stole one ball away from an Oregon receiver and caused another fumble. He recorded 10 tackles, two for a loss, and broke up a pass.
"It's all about this team and 11 guys chasing down the football," Skov said. "Defensively we wanted to attack the line of scrimmage and disrupt their tempo. They are a dangerous team and we couldn't letup."
"We love those opportunities," Hogan said. "When we're backed up like that, we can show what we can do. With the backs we have, I'll take it."
And those taped glasses (with no lenses) they wore to the interview room?
"Hey, we have to go to class tomorrow,"Skov said and (hashtag)NerdNation wrote itself yet another chapter.