Oregon sure looked like it had the game wrapped up against Stanford. It didn’t.
The No. 7 Cardinal scored a crazy TD in overtime and held No. 20 Oregon on its possession to escape with a 38-31 win in Autzen Stadium. Here’s how Colby Parkinson hauled in what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown.
Oregon got the ball with the chance to tie or win after Stanford’s TD but Stanford intercepted Oregon QB Justin Herbert on fourth down.
The game should never have gone to overtime. The Ducks led 24-7 in the second half and somehow let the lead slip away. Even with less than two minutes left and a three-point lead.
Oregon looked like it had the game wrapped up at 31-28 with a Justin Herbert third-down keeper that seemingly would lead to a running down of the clock in the fourth quarter.
That didn’t happen.
C.J. Verdell fumbled as Oregon was trying to run out the clock. Stanford recovered and Jet Toner hit a 32-yard field goal that sent the game into overtime.
Oregon could have knelt down to come close to ending the game after Herbert’s run. Instead of kneeling down for three plays, the Ducks tried to run it. And it ended poorly.
Here’s what would have happened if Oregon kneeled.
1st down kneel at 1:41. Timeout. Let’s say 1:39.
2nd down kneel runs clock to :59
3rd down kneel runs clock to :19.
Punt runs clock to under :10 and Stanford has no timeouts to go length of field
— Patrick Netherton (@PTNetherton) September 23, 2018
Perhaps an overturned touchdown in the third quarter should have been the sign that Stanford was going to pull off the comeback and Oregon shouldn’t take anything for granted. Jaylon Redd looked to score a touchdown with 4:32 left in the third that would have put Oregon up 30-7. But look closely at what happened. Redd’s foot hit the pylon before the ball was across the goal line.
They reversed this from a TD to out at the 1.
— Yahoo Sports College Football (@YahooSportsCFB) September 23, 2018
The runner is immediately out of bounds in college football when his body hits the pylon. Since the ball was behind the goal line, Redd didn’t score a touchdown. The ball was placed at the 1 and Oregon self-destructed from there. The ensuing snap went over Herbert’s head. Two plays later Stanford’s Joey Alfieri was returning another fumble for an 80-yard touchdown.
The potential 14-point swing put the game at 24-14. Oregon punted on the next series and Stanford scored in 71 seconds to make the score 24-21. The Ducks went from a potential 24-point lead to a three-point lead in approximately 200 seconds.
The second-half performance overshadowed a brilliant first half from the offense. Especially Herbert. He finished 26-of-33 for 346 yards and a touchdown and an interception. Stanford’s defense had no answer for him in the first half.
Oregon didn’t have much of an answer for Stanford QB K.J. Costello either. He was 19-of-26 for 327 yards and three touchdowns. Two of them went to J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who boxed out Oregon defenders in the end zone for his scores.
What it means for the Pac-12 North
The winner of Saturday’s game was positioned to be Washington’s challenger in the division. Or, if you prefer, the frontrunner for the College Football Playoff. The honor for both of those titles goes to Stanford now. The Cardinal are the only undefeated team left in the Pac-12 and the conference’s best hope for a playoff berth at the moment.
With Washington still to come and a game against Notre Dame next week, Stanford is definitely a playoff contender with a one-loss season. If the Cardinal escape South Bend with a win next week then we can really start to talk about their playoff chances. Right now it’s just a bit too soon.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports.
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