Stanford shocks No. 7 Oregon

BY foxsports • November 8, 2009

Toby Gerhart and Stanford did to the Oregon defense what the Ducks did a week ago to Southern California, opening up the Pac-10 race with a program-defining victory.

Gerhart ran for a school-record 223 yards and three scores, Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Stanford held on to beat No. 7 Oregon 51-42 Saturday to become bowl eligible for the first time in eight years.

"This was definitely my biggest win since I've been here at Stanford," Gerhart said, ranking it ahead of the victory over No. 2 USC two years ago.

"I think it's definitely bigger than the USC win because it gets us to that bowl game. All our seniors, the goal coming in was to be a bowl team. This was by far the biggest win. The students storming the field, that was an awesome feeling."

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Stanford had lost in its past five games with a chance to become eligible for a bowl and now is in position to play a postseason game for the first time since Tyrone Willingham's final year in 2001 after snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Ducks.

The loss by Oregon (7-2, 5-1 Pac-10) just a week after gaining 613 yards in a 47-20 win over USC cost the Ducks any shot at a berth in the Bowl Championship Series title game and took away any margin for error if they want to win the conference outright.

Oregon rallied with two late touchdowns to cut a 20-point lead down to six, but Stanford (6-3, 5-2) recovered an onside kick with 2:38 to go and tacked on Nate Whitaker's third field goal with 11 seconds left to seal the win.

"We got beat by a better team," coach Chip Kelly said. "If you say we got caught looking behind or looking ahead, it takes away from Stanford. Stanford is a heck of a football team."

Luck took advantage of vast open areas in the middle of the Oregon defense, completing four passes of at least 20 yards in the first half alone. Even when the Ducks had good coverage, Luck managed to connect with his receivers downfield.

He finished 12 for 20 for 251 yards, throwing an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jim Dray in the second quarter and a 31-yarder to Chris Owusu after Oregon cut the Cardinal lead to 10 points early in the third quarter.

"Just an unbelievable performance by Andrew," Harbaugh said. "I don't know how you can play better. How can you play better as a quarterback? What can you say he should have done better? Who could have done better?"

The Ducks got the lead back to 10 on a 3-yard keeper by Jeremiah Masoli, before Gerhart carried Oregon defenders into the end zone on a 17-yard run that made it 45-28 late in the third quarter.

Gerhart had 38 carries, punishing Oregon defenders on each run. He broke the previous record of 220 set by Jon Volpe in 1988 and broke his single-season rushing record set last year with 1,217.

"As usual he was just unbelievable," fullback Owen Marecic said. "It's great blocking for him. I have to get a hat on somebody and he'll do the rest. His performance speaks for itself. He carried the team today. He was just awesome."