Pac Tracks: Still trying to digest Stanford vs. Oregon

Two days later it makes more sense. Where else but in Eugene, on Oregon’s campus, 40 years after “Animal House,” should we receive college's classic reprise of “Over, did you say over?"

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Let’s make one thing clear: it was over. I haven’t seen anything more finished since the Atlanta Falcons iced New England in that Super Bowl.

Next you're going to tell me Tiger Woods came back from 1,199 in the world golf rankings.

Oregon’s wipe-out victory over Stanford at Autzen Stadium was such a decisive, declarative thing of beauty Twitter couldn’t wait to celebrate it in real time.

Some of our best and brightest, maybe descendants of the headline writer who gave us “Dewey Beats Truman” for the Chicago Tribune, put down in cyberspace what we all knew to be gospel.

Forde

This was a big mistake at the home Forde front given Pat's daughter is a star swimmer at Stanford. What a crazy social media world we live in. Consider: Kirk Herbsrtreit, who did Saturday's Stanford-Oregon game for ESPN, got in trouble a few years ago when he announced LSU Coach Les Miles would be the next coach at Michigan.

Herbstreit was wrong and apologized by saying he was going to leave journalism to real reporters like Pat Forde, who then worked for ESPN.

Forde now works for Yahoo! and is very much a real reporter, but itchy-finger Twitter is a disease for which there is no known cure.

Forde's Yahoo! teammate, Pat Thamel, couldn't even wait for Oregon to tack on the extra point for what should have been a 31-7 lead in the third quarter.

Thamel

Rankman is not picking on these guys. I would have tweeted the same thing had I not been recovering from double thumb transplant surgery from all the tweeting I did Friday night during Washington State at USC.

Twitter is, in so many ways, an insidious scourge and menace to society, but if there was ever a sure-fire "premature speculation" bet, it was Oregon over Stanford.

I still can't believe what I saw. Jaylon Redd of the Ducks was racing into the end zone for a drive-home-safely touchdown when his left foot kicked the pylon BEFORE the ball crossed the plane of the goal.

Pylon

I've covered football for 40 years and can't remember anything like this. I know I've seen diving players touch the pylon with the ball and get rewarded with touchdowns. But feet don't count.

Yep, though, there it is, right there in the NCAA Manual: Rule 4, Section 2, Article 1, c: "A player who touches a pylon is out of bounds."

Still, Oregon had first and goal at the one. The Ducks were three feet from 31-7 lead but lost nine yards on a botched hand off exchange. Two plays later, another blooper-reel play led to Stanford's Joey Alfieri returning a scoop-and-score 80 yards for a touchdown.

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Oregon still had a 99% chance of winning while holding the ball and a three point lead, with less than a minute left, according to one ESPN chart I saw.

Stanford only had one time out left, so Oregon could have nearly run out the clock before having to punt with a few seconds remaining. The smart play would have been for quarterback Justin Herbert to run around a bit in the backfield and take a couple of knees.

But Oregon Coach Mario Cristobal decided to give the ball to a freshman, who fumbled while heroically trying to stretch for the game-clinching first down. This is how the impossible happens. Stanford recovered, tied the game with a field goal at the buzzer and then won in OT, 38-31.

"We're going to be aggressive," Cristobal said after the game. "In our eyes, when our offensive line is playing like it did against them, and knocking people off the ball, you trust your guys to get it done."

It all ended disastrously for Oregon but, selfishly, for the conference, Stanford winning was a better result in its narrow patch to the College Football Playoff. Stanford winning sets up a top-10 match up Saturday against Notre Dame in South Bend.

Had Oregon kept winning its non-conference schedule of Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State it would have been eventually savaged and exposed by pundits and playoff committee members.

If you thought Washington scheduling Rutgers was bad?

Stanford, conversely, now has the chance to score wins over two top-10 teams, in the next month, with Notre Dame and Washington. Stanford's schedule is unassailable even though my gut hasn't changed. David Shaw's style creates too many close games to win them all, so chances are the Cardinal will get tripped up a time or two.

Oregon fans are left to wallow, but hopefully not too long. At some point you have to dust off, clean up, shut off the keg, get to class and make sure you don't throw seven years of college down the drain.

For, as a wise man once said, "Fat, drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son."[/membership]

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