Twenty-four hours. That's how long David Shaw, Stanford's Director of Football, gave his players to move on from Saturday night's difficult 38-36 loss to Oregon.
Most will do it quicker.
Shaw implored his team, his seniors in particular, to look at the big picture. A win by No. 15 Stanford (8-2, 7-1 Pac-12) this Saturday night against Cal (6-4, 3-4) in the 118th Big Game secures the Pac-12 Conference North Division title and a spot in the conference championship game on Dec. 5 at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.
"If we beat Cal, all our goals are still ahead of us," said Stanford senior wide receiver Michael Rector.
Senior free safety Kodi Whitfield agreed.
"This week comes down to refocusing," he said. "We have another great team coming up in Cal. We can't take a week off and think games are going to be handed to us. We have to go out and fight each and every week."
Fifth-year senior defensive end Brennan Scarlett, who recorded 2.5 of Stanford's five sacks and forced a fumble against Oregon, admitted it was a tough loss, but not something players can dwell on.
"We'll look at the film and see what we can do to improve for next week, but then it's on to the next one," said the Portland, Oregon, native.
Sweeping the state
There is also the matter of sweeping the state of California. The Cardinal has beaten UCLA and USC this season, and a sixth straight win against the Bears would mark the fifth time in the 2000s that Stanford has accomplished the feat, the others coming in 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2001.
The postseason will take care of itself.
"We're living life in the windshield right now," Shaw said. "We've got one game to get to the Pac-12 championship, and that's what we're focusing on."
Stanford can also clinch the crown if Oregon loses either of its last two home games against USC or Oregon State.
Taboada catching on
Junior tight end Greg Taboada caught two fourth-quarter touchdown passes from quarterback Kevin Hogan. The second, a 4-yarder, came with 10 seconds remaining and pulled Stanford within two points of the Ducks. In both cases, the 6-foot-5 Taboada used his size to out-muscle smaller cornerbacks.
"It's not really something we practice too much," Taboada said. "I think Hogan and I just have a good trust with each other and I'm just happy he threw them up there."
Taboda said everyone kept their cool on the final drive.
"I think we had great composure at the end," said Taboada. "We do it every Monday, but obviously it was a different kind of scenario. We've had plenty of two-minute drives this season, so we know we can do it."
Taboada said there was no finger pointing when Stanford fell behind.
"We were prepared," he said. "USC was a great test. They got the first few points and then it was a shootout. We have faith that the defense is going to make adjustments real quickly. They did and got some big stops."
In the fourth quarter, the unit limited Oregon to three points on three offensive possessions.
Career high for Rector
Rector caught a career-high eight passes for 103 yards, the latter one yard shy of his personal best set against Cal in 2013. Despite the loss, he liked the way his teammates responded after trailing 35-23 in the fourth quarter.
"All credit to my guys for fighting until the end," said Rector. "We stayed the course and played ourselves back into the game and really gave ourselves a chance."
McCaffrey still No. 1
Sophomore running back Christian McCaffrey increased his NCAA lead in total offense. After totaling 244 yards against Oregon, he now averages 241.80 per game. Tyler Ervin of San Jose State is second at 209.80.
McCaffrey surpassed 100 yards rushing for a team-record eighth straight game (147). He ranks seventh nationally with 1,354 yards and ninth in rushing yards per game (135.4).
Hogan ranks 12th in passing efficiency (162.1) and 13th in completion percentage (.676).
The kickoff for the Big Game has been set for 7:30 p.m. PT at Stadium Stanford and is sold out. The Big Game will be televised nationally on ESPN . . . Stanford continues to lead the nation in time of possession, averaging 36:00 per game . . . The Cardinal has lost only four home games this decade . . . Former Stanford quarterback Jim Plunkett, the school's only Heisman Trophy winner, served as honorary captain . . . At halftime, the women's golf, women's lightweight crew and women's water polo teams were recognized for winning national titles last season.
"I knew somebody was going to catch me. I'm not the fastest guy in the world." - Fifth-year senior linebacker Kevin Anderson, who returned a second-quarter fumble 51 yards to the Oregon 9-yard line.