STANFORD, Calif. -- Thanks in large part to the clutch play of a redshirt freshman quarterback making his first collegiate start, No. 15 Stanford will head into next week's showdown against Oregon with its Rose Bowl hopes very much alive.
Kevin Hogan's statistics were impressive in his first start for Stanford, but it was two particular plays he made that were the difference in the Cardinal's 27-23 victory over No. 11 Oregon State on Saturday afternoon at Stanford Stadium.
Stanford (8-2, 6-1 in the Pac-12) had to overcome a 23-14 second-half deficit and four turnovers to beat Oregon State (7-2, 5-2 in the Pac-12), which scored 23 straight points to apparently take control of the game. However, Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz committed one critical turnover to give Hogan a chance to steal the game away.
Stepfan Taylor rushed for 114 yards for Stanford to go past the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight season, but the star for the second straight week was Hogan, who finished 22-for-29 for 254 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions (one of which came off a tipped pass) and two game-changing plays.
His first big play came on the final call of the third quarter with Stanford trailing by nine points. Hogan was going down for an apparent sack with a defender wrapped around his waist when the 6-4, 225-pound quarterback somehow got a throw off to Taylor on the sidelines. Taylor brushed off two tackles as he completed a 40-yard touchdown reception to reduce the deficit to 23-21.
"That was probably the play of the game," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said. "That really changed the momentum."
"Play of the day," Stanford coach David Shaw said simply,
Hogan's biggest disappointment was that he was unable to watch Taylor's run, since he was underneath Oregon State bodies.
"I wasn't sure he caught it," Hogan said, "but then I heard the crowd noise."
Hogan got a chance for his second big play, when Vaz simply let the ball slip out of his hand while scrambling for yardage, giving Stanford the ball at the Oregon State 29-yard line with 9:21 left.
On a first-and-goal play from the 14 (following a holding penalty), Hogan placed a perfect pass to Zach Ertz over the middle for the go-ahead touchdown with 5:07 left. Hogan had changed the play at the line to get what he wanted.
"It was a phenomenal throw," Shaw said. "To be able to check to that and throw a laser, and with his eyes to look off the safety."
The Beavers had one more chance. But Vaz, who completed 23 of 38 passes for 226 yards, was sacked on a third-and-three play from the Beavers' 43. He also injured his ankle on the play and had to leave the game. That brought in Sean Mannion for the first time in the game, facing a fourth-and-15 with 2:10 left and no timeouts remaining. His fourth-down incompletion ended the Beavers' chances.
"We didn't play well enough in the fourth quarter," said Riley, whose team lost for the second time in three games after a 6-0 start.
The Beavers had rallied in the middle two quarters to take control of the game after being dominated in the first quarter.
When Stanford took a 14-0 lead with 31 seconds left in the first quarter, it had outgained the Beavers 194 yards to minus-4.
Oregon State bounced back and took its first lead of the game when it marched 75 yards following the second half kickoff. Vaz's 22-yard touchdown pass to Markus Wheaton put the Beavers ahead 17-14 at 10:17 of the third quarter.
Oregon State added a 42-yard field goal by Trevor Romaine to make it 20-14 after Ryan Murphy intercepted a tipped Hogan pass at the Stanford 27-yard line.
A 44-yard field goal by Romaine increased the Beavers' lead to 23-14 with 3:30 left in the third quarter.
But the inability to convert those chances into touchdowns proved to be the Beavers' downfall.
"Too many field goals," Wheaton said.
So it sets up Stanford's game next week in Eugene against Oregon, which figures to be No. 1 if it handles Cal later Saturday.
"It's going to take our best game and not their best game for us to pull it off," Shaw said.
NOTES: Saturday's game was Stanford's final regular-season home game. The Cardinal finishes with road games against two nationally ranked teams, Oregon and UCLA. ... This was Oregon State's last road game. The Beavers finish up with home games against Cal, Oregon and Nicholls State. The Nicholls State game, scheduled for Dec. 1, was postponed from earlier in the season because of weather concerns and will be canceled if Oregon State plays in the Pac-12 title game, which is scheduled for Nov. 30. However, the Beavers' chances of playing in the conference title game are slim now. ... Both Oregon State and Stanford entered Saturday's action thinking they could get to the Rose Bowl even if neither beats Oregon. If the Ducks finish unbeaten and go to the national championship game, the Rose Bowl could choose another Pac-12 team for its game, provided that team finishes in the top 14 of the final BCS standings. ... Two of Oregon State's top players -- running back Storm Woods and cornerback-punter returner Jordan Poyer -- played Saturday after missing the previous week's game with sprained ankles.