By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
It seems difficult to believe, at this particular point in time, that redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan has made two career starts at quarterback for Stanford.
Further, it's hard to believe that Hogan is 2-0 as a starter when both games were against nationally-ranked opponents, including the No. 1 team in the nation at their place.
Yet, after rubbing our collective eyes to make sure it wasn't just some wishful thinking, the score stands. Hogan, with a little help from his friends, helped the 14th-ranked Cardinal to another one of the biggest upsets ever, a 17-14 overtime victory over previously undefeated Oregon, in Eugene.
Stanford scored 17 points and won, usually not a good idea against any team, let alone against one averaging nearly 59 points a game.
It was Oregon's lowest point total since Chip Kelly's debut with the Ducks, a 19-8 loss to Boise State in 2009.
Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 157 yards on 33 carries, did not score a touchdown, another sign the Cardinal is usually in trouble.
Stanford (7-1, 9-2) doesn't have much time to rest on its laurels, as it travels to Pac-12 South Division champ UCLA next Saturday. The Cardinal still has to win that game in order to host the Bruins in the title game.
Jordan Williamson, who will long last have his past miscues officially erased from memory, connected on a 37-yard field goal in the first overtime to send shivers of joy up the spines of the Cardinal faithful and broke the hearts of the ardent Ducks fans.
Redshirt junior offensive lineman Khalil Wilkes saved the day two plays earlier, recovering a Hogan fumble on the second play of overtime, taking it away from several Duck defenders.
Taylor's yardage was, as it turned out, more significant than scoring a touchdown. He allowed the Cardinal to control the clock in the fourth quarter. The Ducks had less than three minutes to try and work their magic in the final period.
Taylor also needs another 12 yards to make it 4,000 for his career, and another 45 yards to match Darrin Nelson's career rushing yard record. His 779 carries is already a school record.
Hogan, using sleight of hand, a powerful right arm and some kind of pixie dust, completed 25 of 36 passes (a success rate of .694 for those of us not math majors) for 211 yards and one of the more dramatic touchdown passes ever thrown in a replay situation.
"They played good defense all night, so I tried not to force anything," Hogan said. "I just took what was there. I wanted to throw catchable balls and let the receivers do the rest. The offensive line did their job and I just got it to the play makers."
Senior tight end Zach Ertz, who is more of a hybrid wide receiver, caught 11 passes for 106 yards, including one of the best juggling acts ever performed in the far corner of the end zone, a 9-yard completion that resulted in the tying score.
"I knew I caught it," Ertz said. "I wasn't really wasn't sure if I was out of bounds or not. It was a great play."
It was ruled incomplete at first and took a closely-watched replay to get it reversed. There was no argument from Stanford on the initial call.
Little did anyone know it at the time, but junior free safety Devon Carrington made a game-saving tackle early in the game, running down Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota after a 77-yard run. The Ducks never did score that drive.
Nor did Oregon score in the first or fourth quarters, a significant achievement for the Stanford defensive unit.
"We respect them but we're not going to concede points," Stanford linebacker A.J. Tarpley said. "We just kept fighting and trusted each other to do our jobs. They can score from 90 yards out at any time. We knew in two minutes they could take it 21 points."
The last time Stanford won in Eugene was 2001, when the Ducks were also undefeated. It was their only loss of the season.
Every down, every play, every call seemed significant during the game. Stanford perhaps threw some doubt into the minds of Oregon players when it stopped two fourth-down plays in the first half. The Ducks punted the rest of the night.
Hogan scored the game's first touchdown on a scramble, putting his head down and diving into the end zone in the second quarter.
"I was rolling out hoping to get the ball to Stepfan," Hogan said. "I tried a little cut and ended up running it in."
And Williamson? He was running around avoiding tackles like a Taylor after making his game winner.
"I kind of blacked out," Williamson said. "I was excited and I ran around. It felt great to help the team win. I felt like I owed them."
Mark that paid in full.