Sports


Stanford won't have time to smell the roses this year

 

It's official. The Stanford football team will not be returning to the Rose Bowl, or the Pac-12 championship game for that matter.

Marcus Mariota passed for 258 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and rushed for another 85 yards and two touchdowns to help No. 5 Oregon put the duckbill on any hopes the Cardinal had of repeating as conference champs with its 45-16 Pac-12 victory Saturday.

"We played one of the best teams in the nation and fought them as hard as we could," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "We had to play a near-perfect second half and we weren't able to do that."

Stanford (3-3 in the Pac-12, 5-4 overall) gets an extra week to manage its affairs before Utah visits on Nov. 15, completing the Cardinal's home schedule.

The Cardinal still has the issue of becoming bowl-eligible, which will happen with a win in any of its last three games. The quality of bowl game is yet to be established.

"The goal is to finish strong and see where that puts us," Shaw said. "We dug ourselves a hole in the conference early in the season."

Statistically speaking, the Stanford offense performed as well as could be expected against one of the best teams in the nation. Kevin Hogan was 21 of 29 for 237 yards but he also threw an interception and lost a fumble.

Seven different runners combined for a healthy 132 rushing yards, though Hogan was the leader with 42 yards on 11 carries.

Stanford's inability to score touchdowns once again raised its ugly head, allowing the Ducks to quickly expand on a lead they took from the opening drive.

In addition to its failure to get into the end zone rather than settle for field goals, little things like penalties and missed tackles added up to a big, fat loss.

"Our offense was moving the ball and giving us a chance," Cardinal linebacker A.J. Tarpley said. "We couldn't get off the field on third down and couldn't stop them."

The losses to USC and Notre Dame were frustrating. The losses to Arizona State and Oregon merely showed this year's version of the Cardinal is not nearly as good as it has been.

Stanford can still continue its recent tradition of reaching a postseason festival, though the double-digit victories will have to be placed into hibernation until springtime.

With Pasadena no longer a postseason destination, the choices are San Antonio (very unlikely), San Diego, Santa Clara (Levi's Stadium), El Paso, Las Vegas and Tempe.

The Las Vegas Bowl, even though it's low on the Pac-12 totem pole, would mean facing the Mountain West champion. Everything else may feel like a consolation.

Chalk up the regular season to the law of averages and the forces of revenge. It will still be a winning season, though it no longer seems to feel that way.

NOTES: Stanford allowed at least 30 points for the first time in 32 games, breaking the longest streak in the nation. The Cardinal last allowed more than 30 points in a 54-48 overtime win against Arizona on Oct. 6, 2012 . . . Oregon gained 312 yards in the first half. Stanford had not allowed 300 yards in the first half since Oct. 22, 2011 (vs. Washington) . . . Oregon's 14 first-quarter points were the most the Cardinal has allowed in a first quarter this season and tied for the most allowed under David Shaw . . . Blake Martinez recorded a career-high 14 tackles and had Stanford's only sack . . . Jordan Williamson tied John Hopkins for the most field goals made in a Stanford career (59) and passed Rod Garcia for second place in career field goal attempts (85).

— Palo Alto Online Sports/Stanford Athletics

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