One week after upsetting Southern Cal to take control of the Pac-10, Oregon blew its chance at getting to the BCS championship game by stumbling at Stanford, 51-42, yesterday.
Toby Gerhart ran for a Cardinal-record 223 yards and three scores, and Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns as Stanford took control early and kept the Ducks in arrears the rest of the way. Oregon cut a 20-point deficit to 6 in the final minutes, but Stanford (6-3, 5-2) tacked on Nate Whitaker’s third field goal of the day with 11 seconds left.
Oregon (7-2, 5-1) remains in first in the Pac-10, but has only a half-game lead over Arizona, which is 4-1, and Stanford.
“We got beat by a better team,’’ Ducks coach Chip Kelly said. “If you say we got caught looking behind or looking ahead, it takes away from Stanford. Stanford is a heck of a football team.’’
The Cardinal snapped a seven-game losing streak in the series with perhaps their most meaningful win in coach Jim Harbaugh’s three seasons on The Farm, and now Stanford is in position to play a postseason game for the first time since Tyrone Willingham’s final year in 2001.
Luck took advantage of vast open areas in the middle of the Oregon defense, completing 12 of 20 passes for 251 yards. He threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jim Dray in the second quarter and a 31-yarder to Chris Owusu after Oregon cut the Cardinal lead to 10 points early in the third quarter. Owusu had four catches for 111 yards and two long kickoff returns.
The Ducks got back within 10 on a 3-yard keeper by Jeremiah Masoli before Gerhart carried defenders into the end zone on a 17-yard run that made it 45-28 late in the third quarter.
Gerhart, who had 38 carries, also broke his season rushing record set last year with 1,217.
The Cardinal got off to a fast start when Owusu returned the opening kickoff 77 yards to set up a field goal. Stanford’s offense didn’t slow down. A 25-yard pass from Luck to Owusu set up Gerhart’s first touchdown run and Gerhart scored again on the next possession to make it 17-7.
Luck added the TD pass to Dray and then threw a 39-yarder to Ryan Whalen that set up Owen Marecic’s 2-yard run that gave the Cardinal a 31-14 lead.
Florida 27, Vanderbilt 3 - Tim Tebow passed for one TD and ran for another, but for the most part the top-ranked Gators (9-0, 7-0 SEC) had a lackluster effort against the Commodores (2-8, 0-6) in Gainesville, Fla.
Florida had 375 total yards, and about a third of them came late in the game. A big chunk of Tebow’s 208 yards passing came on a 64-yard run-and-catch by Aaron Hernandez late in the fourth quarter. Tebow also was held to 27 yards on 16 carries.
Texas 35, Central Florida 3 - Jordan Shipley set a Texas record with 273 yards receiving on 11 catches, including an 88-yard TD, and the No. 2 Longhorns (9-0) shook off a slow start to blow away their nonconference visitors.
Colt McCoy passed for 470 yards - 3 shy of the school record - and two scores.
TCU 55, San Diego St. 12 - Andy Dalton threw for two TDs and ran for two scores in San Diego as the No. 6 Horned Frogs (9-0, 5-0 Mountain West) won their 11th straight to remain in contention for a BCS bowl berth.
Ohio St. 24, Penn St. 7 - The No. 15 Buckeyes (8-2, 5-1) pulled into a first-place tie in the Big Ten by scoring the final 17 points in the 300th game at Beaver Stadium. Terrelle Pryor threw for two TDs and ran for another in his return to his home state, and Ray Small burned the No. 11 Nittany Lions (8-2, 4-2) with two long punt returns.
Southern Cal 14, Arizona St. 9 - Will Harris’s 55-yard interception return and Matt Barkley’s 75-yard pass to Damian Williams were the only TDs for the 12th-ranked Trojans (7-2, 4-2 Pac-10) in Tempe, Ariz.
Houston 46, Tulsa 45 - The No. 13 Cougars (8-1, 4-1 Conference USA) rallied on the road, getting a 51-yard field goal by Matt Hogan as time expired. Case Keenum finished with 522 yards passing and three TDs.
Pittsburgh 37, Syracuse 10 - Greg Williams’s 51-yard interception return for a TD late in the first half gave Pitt (8-1, 5-0 Big East) a 13-3 lead, and the No. 14 Panthers extended their best start since 1982 by beating the visiting Orange.
Utah 45, New Mexico 14 - Jordan Wynn passed for 297 yards and two TDs in his first start, and the No. 17 Utes (8-1, 5-0 Mountain West) rolled at home to set up a first-place showdown next week at TCU.
Oklahoma St. 34, Iowa St. 8 - Zac Robinson passed his coach, Mike Gundy, as the Cowboys’ career passing leader, and Keith Toston ran for 206 yards and three TDs in a road blowout for 18th-ranked Oklahoma State (7-2, 4-1 Big 12).
Navy 23, Notre Dame 21 - The Midshipmen (7-3) won at Notre Dame Stadium for the second straight time, getting ahead early and then holding off the No. 19 Fighting Irish (6-3) thanks to a late safety by Craig Schaefer.
Nebraska 10, Oklahoma 3 - Matt O’Hanlon had three of the five interceptions snagged by the host Cornhuskers (6-3, 3-2 Big 12), and the No. 20 Sooners (5-4, 3-2) failed to score an offensive TD for the first time in 11 years.
Arizona 48, Washington St. 7 - Travis Cobb returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a TD, setting the tone for the No. 21 Wildcats (6-2, 4-1 Pac-10) in Tucson.
Oregon St. 31, California 14 - Sean Canfield threw for two TDs and ran for a score to lead the visiting Beavers (6-3, 3-3 Pac-10) to the upset over the No. 23 Golden Bears (6-3, 3-3), who lost star running back Jahvid Best to a concussion in the second quarter.
Wisconsin 31, Indiana 28 - John Clay ran for 134 yards and a TD and Montee Ball scored twice to help the 24th-ranked Badgers (7-2, 4-2 Big Ten) hold on in Bloomington, Ind.
BYU 52, Wyoming 0 - Needed for only a half and change, Max Hall threw for 312 yards and four TDs as the No. 25 Cougars (7-2, 4-1 Mountain West) had an easy time in Laramie, Wyo.