PALO ALTO, Calif. -- No. 5 Stanford stymied Oregon's explosive offense for the second year in a row, beating the No. 3 Ducks 26-20 Thursday night at Stanford Stadium and severely damaging Oregon's chances for a national championship.
Oregon (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) made it exciting by rallying from a 26-0 deficit in the fourth quarter. A 12-yard pass from quarterback Marcus Mariota to Pharaoh Brown with 2:12 left made it 26-20, but Stanford recovered the onside kick and ran out the clock.
The Ducks came into the game ranked second in the nation in scoring (55.6 points per game), rushing offense and total offense. However, Stanford shut them out for three quarters Thursday and limited them to 61 rushing yards.
Oregon scored at least 34 points in all but two of its past 35 games, and both failures were against Stanford. The Cardinal beat the Ducks 17-14 in overtime last year, and Stanford's defense was more dominant this time.
Mariota, a Heisman Trophy front-runner heading into the game, finished 20-for-34 passing for 250 yards and two scores. He also fumbled the ball away in the third quarter.
Oregon failed to score twice in the first half after getting inside the Cardinal 5-yard line, and Stanford (8-1, 6-1) dominated the game's tempo with its running game. Cardinal running back Tyler Gaffney had a school-record 45 carries and ran for 157 yards, and Stanford ran the ball 66 times for 274 yards. Stanford held the ball for 45 minutes, 30 seconds.
Stanford led 17-0 at halftime and added three field goals to take a 26-0 lead before Oregon scored on Mariota's 23-yard pass to wide receiver Daryle Hawkins with 10:11 left in the fourth quarter.
Oregon linebacker Rodney Hardrick then returned a blocked field-goal attempt 65 yards for a score to make it 26-13 with 5:08 remaining.
The Ducks recovered an onside kick and scored again on Mariota's fourth-down pass to Brown, but it was not enough.
Oregon wide receiver Josh Huff left the game after taking a hit in the fourth quarter. He was helped off the field.
Stanford held a 17-0 lead at halftime after producing two time-consuming drives and preventing Oregon from scoring after the Ducks twice got inside the Cardinal 5-yard line.
A Mariota incompletion on a fourth-down pass from the Stanford 4 ended Oregon's first threat in the first quarter. Ducks running back De'Anthony Thomas fumbled the ball away at the Cardinal 2-yard line in the second quarter.
The game was scoreless when the Ducks took over at the Stanford 28-yard line following a 25-yard punt return by Bralon Addison. Oregon got as far as the Stanford 4-yard line before Mariota misfired on fourth down.
Stanford ate up 5:59 while driving 96 yards for a touchdown that made it 7-0. A 47-yard pass from quarterback Kevin Hogan to wide receiver Michael Rector put the ball at the Oregon 12-yard line, and Gaffney completed the 12-play drive with a 2-yard scoring run.
Stanford took a 14-0 lead on a 58-yard drive that was aided by a pass-interference call Oregon cornerback Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, whose interception on the play was negated by the penalty. Hogan scored on an 11-yard run.
Oregon then drove to the Stanford 2-yard line, and Thomas was ruled to be down before fumbling the ball. However, the call was overturned on review, and Stanford was credited with a fumble recovery.
From there, Stanford went on a 96-yard, 20-play drive that used the final 8:26 of the half and ended with Jordan Williamson's 19-yard field goal. A pass-interference call on Oregon on what would have been the final play of the half gave the Cardinal an opportunity to kick the field goal.
NOTES: Oregon lost for the first time in 19 games on its opponent's home field. The Ducks' last true road loss was against Stanford in 2009. ... Stanford improved its home winning streak to 14 games, the third-longest active streak in the country. Its last home loss was against Oregon in 2011. ... Oregon QB Marcus Mariota extended his streak of consecutive passes without an interception to 327 since being picked off against Stanford last year. ... During a halftime ceremony, Stanford retired the No. 7 worn by former Cardinal QB John Elway. That number was also worn by Toby Gerhart in 2009 when he finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting. WR Ty Montgomery currently wears that number, but nobody will wear No. 7 after this season.