All the talk about Stanford Cardinal football players being soft should be put to rest as the Cardinal grinded out an impressive 26-20 win over the Oregon Ducks. In front of a raucous crowd at Stanford stadium, the Cardinal proved that the ground and pound running game was too much for the speedy Oregon Ducks. Senior running back Tyler Gaffney brought his lunch pail to work as he broke the Cardinal record by carrying the ball 45 times for 157 yards. Marcus Mariota and the high powered Oregon offense were stopped all night long by the vaunted front seven of Stanford.
“He (Tyler Gaffney) has a love and a passion for the game of football. He doesn’t want to let his guys down. Every yard he gets is because of the guys around him. We knew he was ready tonight,” said David Shaw. “Tyler Gaffney ran the ball tonight the way running back backs are supposed to run the ball in this game of football.”
Former baseball player Tyler Gaffney showed once again why he made the right decision to come back to football. Instead of using a running back by committee that many though the Cardinal would use, Gaffney carried the ball 45 times and never seemed to slow down. Stanford’s big lineman overpowered the finesse defense of the Ducks. Even though Gaffney only had 3.5 yards per carry, he seemed to always got enough yards to move the chains.
“Yeah, it was a grinder. We made the holes. Oregon’s really good at filling in with their safeties, with their backside backers. It came down to lowering the shoulder and hoped for the best,” explained Tyler Gaffney after the game.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan looked like he transformed himself into Marcus Mariota as he ran for 57 yards on 8 carries. Although Hogan only threw for 103 yards, his career high 57 yards rushing and zero turnovers helped lead Stanford to the victory. What made Hogan’s rushing performance so impressive was that he broke tackles to get some long runs. The Cardinal finished the game with 66 rushes for 274 yards and most importantly the rushing game killed the clock for the Cardinal offense.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota saw his Heisman candidacy go up in flames. The usually quick footed Mariota finished the game with -16 yards rushing tonight. Although Mariota finished with 250 yards passing and 2 touchdowns, he did not look comfortable in the pocket during the game. Credit linebackers Shayne Skov and AJ Tarpley for knocking around Mariota all game long.
“We had great players and great coaches. Make great plays like that and we can stop anybody. But we have to tip our hat to the offense when those guys give us time to rest and reload every series, and it makes it a lot easier.” AJ Tarpley explained on how the Cardinal stopped the Oregon offense.
The Cardinal have put themselves into position to be in the National Championship conversation once again. However, it will take some luck for the one loss Cardinal to finally play in a title game. It remains to be seen if anybody can beat Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio State, so all the Cardinal can do is to continue to grind away wins.