Stanford beat Oregon, but the Pac-12 might end up a loser

It’s like a bad dream.

For the second consecutive season, Oregon saw a potential national championship season disappear thanks to Stanford.

The No. 5 Cardinal beat No. 3 Oregon 26-20 and completely demoralized the Ducks for the majority of the game.

It was an unbelievable result considering Oregon came into the contest averaging more than 55 points per game and had run over every team that had crossed its path. It's starting running back De'Anthony Thomas even told media he thought the Ducks would score at least 40 on the Cardinal.

As an aside, that was apparently motivation for the Cardinal defense led by linebacker Shayne Skov.

Ummm I'm havin trouble counting? How many points was that? U know what we'll give ya half

— Shayne Skov (@ShayneSkov11) November 8, 2013

In the end, Stanford proved that even though up-tempo offenses are the new, shiny toy of college football, running the ball, controlling the time of possession and winning the battle in the trenches is the best way to win a tough football game.

And it’s the same story that cost Oregon a national championship berth last year.

The Stanford offensive and defensive lines out-muscled the Ducks. The Cardinal put high pressure on Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, who had two fumbles and lost one, and didn’t allow Ducks offense to get into any rhythm.

Offensively, the Stanford line helped running back Tyler Gaffney rush 45 times, a school record, which ate away the clock and held the Ducks to just 14 minutes and 30 seconds of possession.

While this is a great win for Stanford, it’s also bittersweet for the Pac-12 conference, which will likely fall just short of having a member team in the national title game for the second consecutive season. Even though Stanford is highly ranked, it still has an ugly loss against an unranked Utah team working against it in a sea of undefeated teams.

The Cardinal won’t jump Alabama and Florida State if those top two teams win this weekend and will have to contend with undefeated Ohio State and Baylor teams sneaking into the conversation.

But that’s still a long way down the road and we’ve all seen November derail the national championship picture several times over.

On Thursday, Stanford looked like a team that could compete with anybody in the country and for a possible national title. We’ll all just have to wait to see if it can get there.

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Graham Watson

is the editor of Dr. Saturday on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at or follow her on Twitter!