Oregon upsets No. 7 Stanford after stopping 2-point conversion late
STANFORD, Calif. — Vernon Adams had Oregon's big-play offense clicking. Stanford was able to grind it out behind Kevin Hogan and Christian McCaffrey.
When it came down to it, two botched snaps and a failed 2-point conversion spoiled the Cardinal's playoff hopes and kept the Ducks alive in the Pac-12 race.
Adams threw for 205 yards and two touchdowns and Oregon used its quick-strike offense and the late 2-point stop to beat No. 7 Stanford 38-36 victory Saturday night.
"We kept fighting out there," Adams said. "It was a great team win. It shows how good we can be."
In a game dominated by offenses that combined for more than 900 yards, it was a defensive stop on the 2-point attempt with 10 seconds left that sealed the win for Oregon (7-3, 5-2 Pac-12) and kept the Ducks' hopes for a conference title alive.
After Hogan lost two fumbles on snaps in the fourth quarter, Stanford (8-2, 7-1) tied it on Hogan's 4-yard touchdown pass to Greg Taboada. Needing a 2-point conversion to tie it, Hogan tried to find tight end Austin Hooper over the middle against the blitz. But linebacker Joe Walker got a finger on the ball and the Ducks held on for the win.
"I might have touched it a little bit," Walker said. "Just a little finger."
Royce Freeman ran for 105 yards and a score and Charles Nelson scored on a 75-yard run on one of the Ducks' three touchdowns of more than 45 yards.
Oregon needs to win the final two games and hope Stanford loses next week at home to California to win the Pac-12 North title.
While Stanford is still in control of the division race, the Cardinal had higher goals of making the College Football Playoff if they could win out. But a suspect defense and two costly botched snaps by Hogan helped do them in.
"Any time you lose, it stings, it's tough," linebacker Kevin Anderson said. "If you told me at the beginning of the season we'd have a chance to beat Cal to win the Pac-12 North, go to the Pac-12 championship with a chance to go to the Rose Bowl, I'd say that's awesome. A little bit of perspective here, but it definitely stings right now."
Hogan lost one fumble near midfield midway through the fourth quarter with the Cardinal down five. After Oregon kicked a field goal to make it 38-30, Stanford drove inside the 20 before Hogan lost another snap with 2:06 to play.
Stanford still had a chance to tie it but missed on the 2-point attempt.
"There was a guy coming after Kevin scot free," coach David Shaw said. "Just didn't make the play. Either the throw or the catch."
Hogan threw for 304 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score. McCaffrey set a Stanford record with his eighth straight 100-yard rushing game, running for 147 yards and a touchdown.
With Adams healthy after being slowed early this season by a broken right index finger, the Ducks showed off the high-powered offense they've been accustomed to in recent years. They gained 436 yards on 48 plays, averaging 9.1 yards per play for the most allowed by Stanford this century.
"We're definitely a different team than at the beginning of the season," Adams said. "We're playing a lot faster and I'm a lot more confident in the offense."
Trailing 23-21 at the half, the Ducks took control in the third quarter. They took the opening kick and easily drove down to score on Freeman's 19-yard run.
The Ducks then stopped Hogan for 1 yard on a third-and-3 and Conrad Ukropina missed a 43-yard field goal attempt.
The teams then traded three-and-outs before Oregon struck with another big play when Adams found Taj Griffin open down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown catch that made it 35-23.
Hogan's two touchdown passes to Taboada helped Stanford nearly overcome the deficit but the Cardinal fell short.
The contrast in styles between grind-it-out Stanford and fast-break Oregon was stark as Stanford took a 23-21 halftime lead.
The Cardinal got touchdown runs from Hogan and McCaffrey and powered their way to 276 yards on 43 plays in 21:32 of possession.
The Ducks relied on the big plays with Nelson scoring on a 75-yard run and Adams hitting Darren Carrington on a 47-yard pass in the final minute to gain 268 yards on 23 plays in 8:28.