By REED NELSON
5:06 p.m. — Welcome to the QuackTown LiveBlog! Undefeated Oregon is taking on a tough Stanford team in recently-sunny Eugene. It was raining all day, but at about 4:15, the rain let up and, to paraphrase George Harrison, on came the sun. It’s senior night at Autzen, and if there’s ever been a game in program history with more on the line that wasn’t played against Auburn, I can’t think of it at the moment. The crowd is live, the air is damn near freezing and Kirk Herbstreit and Brent Musberger are in the building. It should be a fun Saturday night in the Pacific Northwest.
5:12 p.m. — Quick sartorial note: If you were to have told me prior to the season that Nike was planning on moving the Oregon O to the back of their helmets, set dead center, I would have made a gagging motion with my mouth. In practice, however, they’re quite nice.
5:13 p.m. — We’re off! Stanford’s freshman QB, Kevin Hogan has the reigns for the Cardinal now, and looks alright on his first few pass attempts. They were all behind the line for the most part, however.
5:16 p.m. — Boseko Lokombo comes untouched for a huge sack on third down, ending Stanford’s drive after just one first down. Kick to DAT? David Shaw would rather not. Oregon ball.
5:17 p.m. — Thomas and Barner combine for a quick first down, and Oregon’s offense is off and rolling. Or more like off and aboard a now-defunct Concorde jet. Two plays starring Marcus Mariota’s indecisiveness bring up third, then fourth down. Kid needs to get it together. I have a feeling he will. Fourth down Oregon. It feels weird typing that. I’ll try again. Fourth Down Oregon. Yup. Still feels weird.
5:22 p.m. — Early on — and it is really early on, mind you — it looks like Oregon’s attention to the Cardinal rushing attack is paying off. Their neglect of Stanford’s passing offense, however, is killing them. If they can’t stop the pass, Stepfan Taylor will eventually cut the Ducks D up. Or he’ll do it now. But they figured it out, thanks to a key penalty and get the ball back inside their own 15.
5:32 p.m. — And Marcus Mariota! No indecision this time, sees a seam and takes off. He’s fast. Fast as hell, in fact, if hell is truly a speed designation. The only negative thing about that play was De’Anthony Thomas. He displayed arguably the worst downfield blocking I’ve ever seen. ALL HE HAD TO WAS GET IN THE WAY OF ONE STANFORD SAFETY, and Mariota was gone for the 88 yards he needed. But, alas, he didn’t, and then proceeded to make a bonehead play on second down.
5:34 p.m. – You know how you negate an awesome 77-yard run? By NOT scoring. This one’s on you, DAT. That is all.
5:37 p.m. — Again, Oregon’s run defense looks well prepared, but their pass defense looks neglected. Majorly neglected. Two straight first downs from Stanford. Oregon is making Hogan look surgical.
5:40 p.m. — Musberger, I love you. But how are you going to deliver the “Kenjon Barner and Stepfan Taylor’s numbers are comparable” speech with the graphic in front of you?!? Barner has 10 more touchdown’s, 300 more yards, averages nearly three yards more per carry and has touched the ball 42 less times than Taylor. No contest, Barner is winning. Eye test? That’s a different story, but in the black and white, there’s no question. But right now, on the field, Stanford is winning. They’re controlling the clock like they wanted to, they backed over Oregon’s early morale with a huge 4th down stop and now are driving the ball with the same methodical pace at which most Stanley Kubrik films move. It’s infuriating. Get it together Alioti. I know you’re down seven starters, but… but… nevermind. You’re doing your best. I’m just worried early. What else is new.
5:45 p.m. — I’ll tell you what else is new: nearly an hour of real time into this thing, and no score on either side. Stanford should end that drought soon, but I’ve usually dropped three or four game clock timestamps at this point. Right now, I have none and it’s messing up my sense of time. Scary doings in Eugene. End of the first.
5:47 p.m. — Previous 10 first quarters for the Ducks: 190 points. Tonight: 0 points. David Shaw is smart. Hogan’s feet have kept just about everything alive thus far, and a nice little duck-and-dodge brings up a third-and-short. He kept it for a gain of four. Was four longer than short? Yes, yes it was. First down Stanford inside Oregon’s 10.
5:49 p.m. — Kevin Hogan is not rattled. Not in the least. On the games first score, he avoids the pass rush on a roll right, beats a Duck defense that over-committed like a recently de-virginized high school kid, and then dives in for the score. Oregon 0, Stanford 7, 12:39 to play in the second.
5:53 p.m. — Stanford gets to kick off from midfield due to an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against ol’ Chip Kelly himself. It’ll be tough to make the kids run for a stupid penalty on Monday. #JustSayin’
5:54 p.m. — Oregon takes over on their own 20, and then runs two straight ineffective plays, bringing up a third and ten. The Autzen crowd has gone silent. But that doesn’t stop Mariota! The Kid hits Josh Huff on a deep comeback across the field for a first down. Stanford apparently did something stupid post-play, and gives Oregon another 15 yards.
5:56 p.m. — So I’m the ultimate Barner apologist, but it doesn’t look the Oregon receivers are getting any kind of seal on the edge. Stanford has had free runners in the backfield all night. And somehow a wide open Keenan Lowe can’t hold on to a third-and-nine bullet from Mariota and Jackson Rice comes on for the second time this half and Stanford takes over on their own 20, up a TD. Don’t bother re-reading that. Jackson Rice. Punted. Two times, one half. Stanford ball, own 20, up seven.
6:00 p.m. — The most telling off-field, on-my-computer-screen sign that this isn’t going well? I’ve given this one over 1,000 words and we haven’t even played 20 minutes of football. Blechh.
6:02 p.m. — Oregon comes up with a stop in Stanford territory, bringing up a punt that will land nowhere near DAT. Only it does, and he makes ANOTHER AWFUL PLAY. I don’t know where DAT’s head is tonight, but it’s not anywhere near Autzen. He had the chance to faircatch a 30-something yard punt, but he didn’t, and the punt then rolled inside Oregon’s 10. So far, DAT’s cost Oregon a touchdown (twice on the same drive) and 30 yards. Lock it up.
6:06 p.m. — But have no fear, Colt Lyerla is here! Lyerla snags an eight-yard slant, then goes all Spike Hammersmith on a Stanford defender before taking it another 10 yards. DAT follows that up by listening to me (not really) and busting off a nice little 20-yard ditty. The Ducks are rolling, and the rain is coming down again. So much for the nice weather.
6:08 p.m. — But why the f*ck is DAT running the ball on third-and-short?????? I don’t even care about the awful execution on fourth down. That one is on Chip this time, if we continue the whole allocating blame thing. Stanford ball. Again. I’m giving the monotony a rest, I’ll type again when something happens.
6:13 p.m. — The jinx is in. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu gets flagged for a holding penalty, which naturally extends the drive for the Cardinal after a third down stop.
6:16 p.m. — Bailed out by a freshman! Michael Clay blew the fourth down coverage, and Kevin Hogan short-armed TE Hewitt. Oregon ball, 4:13 to play.
6:17 p.m. — When Mariota puts this all together, he’s going to win three Heismans. Not one, not two, three.
6:18 p.m. — David Shaw’s fourth down gamble doesn’t pay off, and Keenan Lowe doesn’t drop a second pass, as Mariota finds him for a 28-yard touchdown. Oregon 7, Stanford 7, 3:26 to play in the second.
6:25 p.m. — Mariota is better than Hogan, don’t get me wrong, but Hogan runs that read-option like he’s been doing it since the womb. Doesn’t matter, however. Oregon ball, 2-plus to play in the half. Or it does. Oregon goes three-and-out and Stanford gets another shot with a little under two to play in the half.
6:29 p.m. — Next man up! Erick Dargan, filling in for an injured Avery Patterson who was filling in for an injured John Boyett, picks up his third pick of the season. Dargan returns the pick to midfield. So what if the ball the slipped? Dargan didn’t let it slip, so there.
6:31 p.m. — Howie Long sighting at Autzen. Note the time. His kid, Eric Long, is a lineman, so he isn’t just a fan. In unrelated news, Mariota returns the favor with a pick intended for whoever picked him off. It ends the half at a 7-7 tie. Chip on the half, “We’ll come out in the second half, we get the ball, the first drive is important to us.” And these sideline interviews aren’t. Revealing Chip, next time you should let us know if it is, in fact, raining.
Marcus Mariota — 115 yards and a touchdown on 11 of 17 passing and an interception; 71 yards on five carries. Kenjon Barner — 15 yards on six carries. De’Anthony Thomas — 30 yards on five carries. Josh Huff — 39 yards on three receptions. Keenan Lowe — 40 yards and a TD on three catches.
Halftime Diagnosis: Ummmmmm… Use Kenjon? Like, just a little bit? I am no doctor, but not using your best offensive player, and then wondering what is going on is kind of like not using anti-biotics then wondering why you’re still sick. Just use Barner!
6:55 p.m. — We’re back. And Mariota picks up a first down with his legs. At least Chip noticed Barner’s lack of opportunity in the first half, and has given him the ball twice in the first four plays out of the gates. But on his third straight carry, Barner never gets vertical, never gets an edge, never gets a seam and gets knocked back a couple of yards, bringing on fourth down and Jackson Rice… But wait, there’s more. Drew Terrell appeared to fumble the punt. He then, upon closer inspection, seemed to not fumble the ball. That hunch was later confirmed by replay. If you had stopped reading at “and Jackson Rice” you would have missed very little. Oh well, so is the nature of these things.
7:01 p.m. — Brent Musberger is in love with Stepfan Taylor.
7:03 p.m. — Oregon ball, inside their own 10. Again. Stanford is good at this whole field position thing.
7:07 p.m. — Well that felt like an extended break, but Barner came out the gates in true thoroughbred fashion, busting out 15 yards on two quick carries. And then Mariota almost makes a horrible mistake, staring down Lyerla as if he could use the f*cking force to get it there. He couldn’t and luckily for Mariota, neither could Stanford’s Trent Murphy. Then, after two nice Will Murphy catch-and-runs, Bralon Addison gets called for always-frustrating “Leg Whip” penalty. Something is happening. Down cards are flying across the field. The fans are booing. The refs are confused. This is bad. Oregon ran the play on first down. Now Oregon got that first down taken away by the hurry up attack. These refs are awful right now. Wow. First-and-ten, er, third-and-er. Whatever. They got it right. And Oregon got another first down, inside Stanford territory. In related news, Stanford has a linebacker named “Skov,” which sounds like “Sko.”
7:14 p.m. — Lyerla snags a pass inside the Stanford 30, a screen puts them inside the 20 and Mariota finds Huff inside the 10. It all happened as I was trying to talk about Lyerla. When it works, it works. De’Anthony Thomas caps the 90-plus yard drive with a six-yard touchdown run. Oregon 14, Stanford 7, 6:35 to play in the third.
7:20 p.m. — Ifo. Ekpre. Olomu. All he does is wreak havoc. And havoc he wreaked, putting his helmet right on the ball that Kelsey Young was cradling. It was his sixth forced fumble of the season, and the Ducks are now truly in business. First-and-ten, Oregon.
7:24 p.m. — And the scariest five words in an Oregon fan’s vocabulary have just been uttered: “Alejandro Maldenado on to kick.” And the ball acted accordingly, sliding right at the last moment, leaving the score 14-7.
7:28 p.m. — Kansas State is losing still. Don’t really know if that maters to the Oregon faithful, but at least it’s newsworthy. Anddddd three-and-out. Brian Jackson with a great late pass deflection to force a Stanford punt. This has been an atypical Oregon game to say the least. And DAT muffed a punt, only to fall right on top of it. Tonight hasn’t been his night.
7:32 p.m. — On second down, Oregon is somehow denied a late-hit call on second and then a pass interference call on third, which brings on Jackson Rice again. Oregon has all but abandoned the inside running attack, for whatever reason, and has had absolutely zero luck working the edge. Stanford’s defenders are either too smart, too quick or too strong, and have been damn near impossible to block in short-yardage situations. I’m sure Mark Helfrich is working on it, but if I’m David Shaw, I’m thrilled that I’ve eliminated about half of Oregon’s offensive play-calling options.
7:36 p.m. — IEO SPEEDWAGON. Ekpre-Olomu forces another fumble, this time ripping it away from Taylor deep in Oregon territory. He is huge, in a non-physically imposing kind of way, and has now forced seven fumbles this season, to go with his four interceptions. Why does Oregon turn opposing offenses over three times a game? Ifo Ekpre-Olomu could be considered a contributing factor.
7:42 p.m. — Well that was disappointing. Two straight Stanford possessions have ended at the helmet of Ifo Ekpre-Olomu, and Oregon has responded with two straight three-and-outs.
7:50 p.m. — After a solid drive, Jordan Williamson misses a 43-yard field goal wide left. His face oozed of disappointment and the slowmo cutaway from ABC might have set kickers as a position back a decade. Oregon still up seven with 8:57 to play. Oh, and Baylor is now up three touchdowns on Kansas State, in Waco.
7:53 p.m. — Another third-and-long for Oregon, forced by weird behavior from DAT and Mariota. And then Mariota gets sacked, giving the ball back to Stanford still up just a score. For some reason, this isn’t nearly as nerve-racking as it should be. At least Jackson Rice is getting some work (I’m searching for silver linings here).
8:02 p.m. — This downhill attack is mind-numbing, at least for one used to watching Oregon. I mean, who keeps the ball for longer than a couple of minutes? That’s just selfish. IEOOOOOOOOOohhhh. Ekpre-Olomu jumped a route and almost took it for six. After a nice third-and-ten completion, Stanford’s offense stays on the field for fourth down. Hello, butterflies.
8:06 p.m. — They convert it, but it looked like the entire left side of Stanford’s offensive line was moving. Enough with the refs. First-and-goal, Stanford. And here comes the fade. What a catch, but it looked incomplete like the refs called on the field. Zach Ertz might not have ever dropped the ball, but he didn’t have control of Arnold until his shoulder hit out of bounds. Suck on that, Perriera. Of course, I’m wrong. Touchdown Stanford. Oregon 14, Stanford 14, 1:35 to play.
8:12 p.m. — I still think that ball was out. Actual Silver Lining: There is 1:35 to play. That’s quite a bit of time.
8:15 p.m. — Of all the times to kick to DAT, David Shaw does it now? And DAT muffs it. What a game. The DAT muff gets followed up by a dropped pass then a suspect inside handoff, bringing up third down. The Ducks go playaction on third down, Mariota had Huff on the seam, and Mariota overthrows Lyerla? But theRE’S A FLAG. OMG. The Ducks pick up the first. And another. I’m staying with you until the clock reads :00. Stop showing Maldenado, ESPN. It’s making me even more nervous than I already am. :57 seconds to play, Oregon on their own 49, and Barner gets thumped on an inside give. Another 3rd-and-nine? Why not.
8:20 p.m. — Why go over the top again?????????????????????????? It’s now fourth down. And nine. With 45 seconds on the clock. Stanford will get the ball back.
8:22 p.m. — Oregon gets away with a facemask penalty on first down, but Stanford doesn’t get away with a hold, so that should run the clock down. Overtime it is.
8:27 p.m. — This is why I’m nervous: Stanford is a ground-and-pound team, one that can handle 25 yards of offense. Their defense specializes in buckling down. Oregon’s offense likes to use all 100 yards of the field, and their defense isn’t exactly a rock and their kicker is like the worst kicker ever. Oh, and Stanford has played in two overtime games already in 2012. Oregon hasn’t played one since 2009, when they beat Arizona in double overtime down in Tucson. Am I scared? Shitless.
8:29 p.m. — Kansas State has just lost, and Mariota just gave away the first down in the series. And then the second. Third-and-nine, Oregon. And Mariota throws the ball to absolutely no one. Him and Huff were reading different fucking books. That might be it. Alejandro Maldenado is on from 41. This is the biggest kcik in the life of a kicker who has already missed the biggest kick of his life. And he clanks it. Oregon might be done.
8:31 p.m — Oregon keeps it contained on first down, allowing Taylor just two yards. Stanford blows a timeout on second down, and I think I’m typing for therapeutic purposes at this point. The keyboard is more cathartic than anything else, and if I have to see another replay of the walking gaffe miss a field goal, I’ll lose it. Kevin Hogan drops back to pass, steps up and FUMBLE. FUMBLE. FUMBLE. But Oregon can’t fall on it. They had every chance to, but couldn’t.
8:34 p.m. — After a three-yard gain on third down, Jordan Williamson is on to try the game winner. Pause for prayer if that’s your thing. Take a swig if that’s your thing. Go drag a cigarette, take a shit, whatever you do, because this is tense.
8:35 p.m. — No more Natty. Williamson pipes it. I have nothing. Nelson, out. Oregon 14, Stanford 17.