Stanford, CA- The No 3 Oregon Ducks came into this game short-handed missing safety Bennett Williams and starting center Alex Forsyth. Still, they were looking to get off to a quick start against an unranked (2-2) Stanford team after the slow start they had last week against (0-4) Arizona. The Ducks seemed out of sync after falling behind early to Stanford. Like last week, they overcame a slow start, except this time having to overcome a first-half deficit. Despite roaring back in the second half with 17 unanswered points, Stanford eventually pulled off the upset in overtime with a final score of 31-24.
The struggle for the Ducks started as early as the opening kick-off with Trikweze Bridges called for targeting after leading with the crown of his helmet, leading to his ejection. The early penalty was just an indication of what was to come for Oregon as they ended the game with ten penalties for 99 yards. Soon after, the Ducks saw themselves with a 10-0 deficit with 6:25 left to go in the 1st quarter. The early deficit was set up by an early three and out, followed by an interception that quarterback Anthony Brown threw to Stanford’s outside linebacker Gabe Reid.
Stanford looked to increase their lead as they reached Oregon’s 45 yard-line. Oregon’s “Bend but don’t break” defense came up with a stop on 4th and one to give them the ball back. Anthony Brown scrambled in for a three-yard touchdown that cut the lead to three points, two plays into the second quarter. Stanford immediately answered the next drive, after overcoming what seemed like a gruesome injury suffered by wide receiver Brycen Tremayne. With Oregon being down by 10 points with four minutes left to go in the 2nd quarter, they were looking to score to gain momentum heading into the second half. What was looking like a promising drive ended with Anthony Brown being stopped up the middle on 4th and one from the one-yard line to essentially end the half.
Oregon came out strong in the second half, with the defense making consecutive stops. Oregon’s offense eventually found its footing in the ground game with running back duo Travis Dye and CJ Verdell. Verdell would eventually go out with an apparent knee injury, and coach Mario Cristobal stated the damage, “appears to be significant.”
The Ducks still managed to keep moving forward; on a drive that began at the 11:43 mark in the 4th quarter, they were able to hit a big 66-yard catch and run on a pass from Anthony Brown to Mycah Pittman. The big play set up a run wide left, for Brown’s second TD scamper, to help Oregon take the lead 24-17.
With the Ducks seemingly taking control of the game, they looked to close out Stanford with a final drive. Due to costly back-to-back false start penalties that pushed the Ducks from 1st and ten on the Cardinal 39 to 1st and 20 from the 49, a forced punt set up a potential game-tying drive. Stanford’s quarterback Tanner McKee, who seemingly was knocked out of the game earlier in the drive returned to connect with no time left in regulation, after a pass interference call on a Duck’s defender in the endzone, connected with Elijah Higgins for the touchdown.
Stanford pulled off the wild upset in overtime after Tanner McKee connected with wide receiver John Humphreys from 14 yards out. On 4th and eight, Oregon’s last chance to keep their chances of winning the game alive fell short on an incomplete pass to end the game. Anthony Brown, after the game, stated, “Excuse my language, but I played like s—. Can’t do anything about it but fix it and move on.”
This week, the Ducks will have a bye to try and help them “move on and fix it”, while looking to bounce back after a tough loss and suffering critical injuries.