Kevin Hogan did not have to be brilliant on Thursday night. Marcus Mariota did.
Behind a steady does of Tyler Gaffney and a swarming Cardinal defense, Stanford helped make the BCS title picture a little clearer than it was with a 26-20 win over the second ranked Oregon Ducks and Heisman Trophy candidate Marcus Mariota.
The win shook up the college football landscape again as both FSU and Alabama still play on Saturday against conference opponents with a hope they will met for a national title.
This year, however, will not be a title year for the Ducks.
From the start of the game, Hogan and the Stanford offense used a systematic running attack that not only eat up large chunks of yardage, it took major time off the clock.
Four Jordan Williamson field goals helped the fifth ranked team in the country put Oregon out of its misery after the third quarter as Stanford built up a 23-0 lead.
Mariota, considered the frontrunner for the Heisman until Thursday night, could not get anything consistent going on offense. But in all seriousness, the night belonged to Gaffney and the Stanford running game.
The Ducks got back in the contest in the fourth quarter with some late special teams miscues – which included a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown and an onside kick that was recovered and led to a Ducks touchdown.
Here is the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of this game form Stanford Stadium.
The Good: Gaffney runs to daylight
The Cardinal game plan was simple enough. Just give the ball to Tyler Gaffney and allow him to do the rest. It worked all night long. Gaffney had 157 yards on 45 carries and a score on the night. No one had an answer for that kind of pounding. Stanford showed the blueprint of how to beat a team that was better on them on paper, but did not put it all together on the road.
Stanford amassed 274 yards rushing on the night.
The Bad: Mariota can unglued
Actually he never got a chance to showcase his ability. Stanford had an answer for him with every offensive play. Whether it was a straight rush from the outside or stopping the run from the middle of the defense, Stanford just rode the Ducks into the ground.
Mariota may have finished 20 of 35 for 250 yards and two touchdowns, but it was by far his worst outing of the season and could not have come at the worst time. Ball control was also an issue for him as he has had five turnovers in the last two games.
The Ugly: The BCS and AP bowl busters
As a Seminoles fan I am loving this. Alabama needs to beat LSU (if LSU wins, you will hear me yell until the cows come home) and FSU needs to take care of business. But now, there are other teams to consider. Oklahoma lost to Baylor, who is undefeated and Ohio State should run the table again unless Michigan can win the annual end of the year battle. How this all plays out with four undefeated teams and a Stanford team that might be better than Baylor or Ohio State is just crazy.
It also may have taken the Heisman away from Mariota and handed it to FSU’s Jameis Winston, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel or Alabama’s AJ McCarron.