By Ralph D. Russo
The Associated Press
STANFORD, Calif. — Tyler Gaffney ran for 157 yards and No. 6 Stanford hammered No. 2 Oregon for three quarters, then held off a furious rally by the Ducks to crush their national title hopes for a second straight season, this time with a 26-20 victory Thursday night.
Kevin Hogan ran for a touchdown and played a mistake-free game for Stanford (8-1, 6-1 Pac-12). The Cardinal put on a clinic in how to play keep away from a team that was averaging 55.6 points. Stanford ran for 274 yards and held the ball for 42 1/2 minutes.
Heisman Trophy contender Marcus Mariota was inaccurate and under pressure much of the night, but he threw two fourth-quarter touchdown passes, sandwiched around a blocked field goal return for a score by Rodney Hardrick, to pull the Ducks (8-1, 5-1) to 26-20 with 2:12 left.
Oregon couldn’t recover a second onside kick and Stanford ran out the clock.
And the biggest winners of all? No. 3 Florida State.
Florida State faces a manageable remaining schedule with a good chance to win its way to the BCS championship game at the Rose Bowl in January.
Stanford led 17-0 at halftime and added three more field goals by Josh Williamson in the second half.
Oregon looked like dead Ducks, down 26-0 early in the fourth with Stanford hammering away behind Gaffney, who set a school record with 45 carries. Even after Oregon finally broke the seal with a 23-yard touchdown pass from Mariota to Daryle Hawkins, the Cardinal went on another time consuming drive and attempted a long field goal that would have sealed it.
Instead, the Ducks blocked it, Hardrick scooped and scored from 65 yards out with 5:08 left and suddenly it was interesting.
Only 5 seconds later it was even more interesting when the Ducks recovered an onside kick. They quickly moved inside the Stanford 5, but got pushed back to a fourth-and-goal from the 12. Mariota threw a touchdown pass to Pharoah Brown with 2:12 remaining, but the time it took the Ducks to get in while burning a timeout was key.
Stanford grabbed the next onside kick and Oregon was powerless to stop the clock.
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