Kevin Hogan threw for 277 yards and a pair of touchdowns and rushed for another, Ty Montgomery returned a punt 50 yards for a score and the Stanford football team downed visiting Oregon State, 38-14, before an appreciative homecoming crowd of 48,401 in a Pac-12 contest Saturday.
The victory ended reports that the Cardinal offense had been misplaced in the Arizona desert and that Hogan had somehow lost his mojo.
Hogan did throw two interceptions in the first quarter, but was impeccable afterward in making sure Stanford (3-2 Pac-12, 5-3 overall) stayed in the hunt for a possible conference championship.
The Cardinal still has four Pac-12 games on the schedule, with the big one looming next Saturday in Eugene. Stanford and Oregon meet once again to determine the inside track to the North Division title at 4:30 p.m.
"The match-up with Oregon starts with Marcus Mariota," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "Forget about what we do an offense, the match-up starts with him. Not trying to stop him, trying to contain him as best we can. Every game he's going to be the fastest guy on the field. I don't care what anybody says about other awards; in my opinion he's been the best player, and I've said it repeatedly, the best play in college football the last couple years. He's special and he's dynamic."
Shaw also had nice words for his own quarterback.
"Kevin threw the ball well," he said. "They got us on two tough interceptions. One they take the blitz and pop back out on the second one. The other one was just a great move by the linebacker that started to come back inside and then ran out full speed. But I thought Kevin played extremely well. You saw him as a runner; he's a dangerous runner. They have to account for him."
Stanford opened the game with a solid eight-play, 75-yard drive, with Christian McCaffrey scoring on a 42-yard pass from Hogan.
"We've had it in the books and finally got an opportunity to run it, and luckily it went well," McCaffrey said. "Kevin made a great throw, and I just tried to use my abilities to do the best I can."
Hogan's first interception did no harm, but the second one gave the Beavers a chance from the Stanford 5-yard line. It took one play to tie the game.
It was all Stanford afterward, with Hogan racing for a 37-yard score, tossing a 37-yard scoring pass to Jordan Pratt and Patrick Skov going one yard for a 28-7 halftime advantage.
"I think our worst enemy right now has been ourselves, and that's the way it's been all year," McCaffrey said. "We just kind of rallied together to get a win."
The way the Cardinal defense was playing, limiting Oregon State to 221 total yards, just 12 on the ground, that halftime score already seemed like overkill. Stanford also recorded six sacks.
"First and foremost, I think a lot of the sacks came through coverage," Shaw said. "I thought Alex Carter played one heck of a football game. I think our defensive backs played well and forced the quarterback to hold the ball because a lot of those sacks weren't within two seconds, some were within four or four and a half seconds. So we had to make him get off his first read and go to the second read, and that's coverage. The guys were relentless out there, and they know that's what we have to do."
Montgomery's punt return came early in the second half and was a crushing blow to the Beavers' comeback hopes. Jordan Williamson added a field goal.
"I'd love to march down the field six, seven yards at a time and pound somebody and run it in from the 2-yard line every time, but we've got some guys now that can score from a distance," Shaw said. "We need to be versatile."