Stanford Football: A Deeper Look into the Win Against the Oregon Ducks

Kevin LeeCorrespondent INovember 21, 2012

EUGENE, OR - NOVEMBER 17: Quarterback Kevin Hogan #8 is congraulated by long snapper Jacob Gowan #56 of the Stanford Cardinal after the game against the Oregon Ducks at Autzen Stadium on November 17, 2012 in Eugene, Oregon. Stanford won the game 17-14 in overtime. (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Steve Dykes/Getty Images

Last weekend, the Stanford Cardinal (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) scored a big upset over the Oregon Ducks (10-1, 7-1 Pac-12), spoiling their undefeated season and hopes of making the national championship.

For the Cardinal, the overtime victory was a huge step forward for the program. It was the first time that Stanford was able to overcome the Ducks since 2009. The win also gives them the inside track to the Pac-12 Championship Game.

If Stanford beats UCLA this weekend or if Oregon loses to Oregon State, the Cardinal will earn a spot in the Pac-12 title game. And if they win that, then it's on to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 2000.

Lots of fans simply see the win over Oregon as just a huge upset that gets them closer to the Rose Bowl. However, the victory meant so much more than just another notch in the win column.

In the first road start of his college career, QB Kevin Hogan did everything that was expected of him and more. He went 25-of-36 for 211 yards and a touchdown. He also added 37 yards on the ground.

Hogan did fumble the ball in overtime while scrambling, but he showed his maturity after the game.

Shaw told Hogan "good game" after Stanford beat Oregon at Autzen Stadium. Hogan's reply: "Sorry about that fumble." Epic answer, IMO.

— David Lombardi (@davidmlombardi) November 20, 2012

It's amazing that Hogan is only a redshirt freshman. I think it's safe to say that Stanford has found its QB for the next couple years. Imagine if head coach David Shaw had started him since the beginning of the season. The losses to Washington and Notre Dame may have had different results, and we could possibly be seeing an undefeated Cardinal team.

The game also showed how great Stanford's coaching staff is. David Shaw and company rarely made a mistake, and it just goes to show that Jim Harbaugh left the program in good hands.

Shaw has coached the team to be one of the most physical in all of college football. The only thing I can criticize him for is the use of the Wildcat. To me, the formation rarely works and just broadcasts what the offense wants to do.

Defensive coordinator Derek Mason did a masterful job of limiting Oregon's offense. His rotations to keep players fresh did wonders against the Ducks' high-powered attack. The defense did an amazing job of closing down space and not allowing Oregon's speedsters to get to dangerous positions. 

The defense as a whole proved to me and many others that they are truly the best in the nation. Holding Oregon to only 14 points is no easy feat. The Ducks haven't scored so little at home since 2006.

There's no doubt that the Cardinal defense won the game for them. They were going up against the best offense in the nation (in terms of scoring) and simply did their job.

The defense kept up with Oregon's high-tempo offense, and what they did was truly one of the best defensive performances I've witnessed.

Tight end Zach Ertz was also a key part of Stanford's win. He showed the college football world that he is one of the best TEs in the nation. He had 11 receptions for 106 yards and scored the game-tying touchdown.

It's clear that Ertz was Hogan's go-to target. The lack of talent talent that Stanford has at the wide receiver position puts even more pressure on Ertz. This fact just shows how good of a tight end he is despite having defenses know that he is the Cardinal's main target.

Stanford's kicker may have gotten the most out of the victory, though. Jordan Williamson has been known as the kicker that missed the field goal in last year's Fiesta Bowl that would've won the game for the Cardinal but instead put the game into overtime. After missing the potential game-winning FG, he missed again in overtime, which gave Oklahoma State the win.

Jordan Williamson wears the Fiesta Bowl everywhere he goes (wore it after the game). "Reminds me of the tough times I've been through"

— David Lombardi (@davidmlombardi) November 20, 2012

After last Saturday's game, he surely redeemed himself with his game-winning field goal in OT. His triumph is just one of those feel-good stories that makes you want to cheer for him.

All of these things show how great a team Stanford is.

QB Kevin Hogan is only a redshirt freshman. The defense will lose some key players, but their depth will make up for that. The Cardinal have also lured some top high school prospects in recent years. The only worry is the already subpar receiving corps and the eventual loss of tight ends like Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo.

First it was Toby Gerhart leaving. Then it was Andrew Luck. Everyone thought that Stanford would decline and become a mediocre Pac-12 team.

Now, it's hard to think of any reason to make a case against Stanford's continued success.