In a game featuring the top passer in the nation in Oregon State’s Sean Mannion – at 2992 yards coming in – and the nation’s top receiver in Brandin Cooks at 1176 yards, the first half between 6th ranked Stanford and the 25th ranked Beavers was anything but an offensive explosion.
Oregon State, playing at home at Reser Stadium in Corvallis, managed a field goal in the first half, and the surprising Heisman candidate Mannion was limited to 88 yards on 17-of-23 passing.
Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan was limited to 61 yards on 5-of-11 passing, but the Cardinal engineered a 6 play, 66-yard drive to close out the half and took the lead 7-3 after a Tyler Gaffney 4-yard run with 7 seconds left.
Gaffney was the statistical star of a mutually lackluster half on offense for both teams, rushing for 66 yards on 9 carries and the last second TD.
Oregon State went for it on 4th down twice in the half, and failed – twice. Stanford punted 4 times and fumbled once until they finally had the half-closing drive.
It was a battle of defenses, or was it special teams?
Oregon State’s Victor Bolden fumbled the kickoff to start the second half at the Beavers’ 12 yard line. It took Stanford and running back Gaffney all of two plays to punch it in and the Cardinal went up by two scores at 13-3.
Oregon State started out at their own 20 after the Stanford kickoff and drove it to the Stanford 35. The Beavers went for it on fourth down again and failed, again.
After a Cardinal three-and-out forced by the Beaver defense, Mannion and OSU put together a 12 play, 90-yard drive that finally saw the QB connect with Cooks for a touchdown – this time an 8-yard punch in. Stanford blocked the extra point and the Cardinal retained the lead at 13-9 entering the 4th quarter.
Hogan and Gaffney put together an 8 play, 73-yard drive in 3 minutes, 45 seconds, punctuated by the running back’s 32-yard scamper, and the Cardinal went up by two scores once again at 20-9.
Stanford forced an Oregon State punt – shockingly they didn’t go for it this time – and took over.
In a game full of twists, Gaffney fumbled and Oregon State was 20 yards away. They couldn’t move the ball and settled for a 39-yard Trevor Romaine field goal bringing the score to 20-12 with 3 minutes left.
The Beavers forced a punt, and after a Cooks 41-yard return, took over at the Stanford 39 with 2:13 left to play.
Oregon State managed to get the ball down to the 7-yard line, but 3 consecutive Mannion passes fell incomplete and the Cardinal maintained, barely.
Stanford moves to 7-1 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-12. They take on No.3 Oregon Nov. 7th at Stanford Stadium.
Oregon State moves to 6-2 overall, 4-1 Pac-12. The Beavers take on USC at Reser Stadium next Friday.
Final score: Stanford 20, Oregon State 12.
Oregon State stats
Passing: Mannion 41-of-57 for 271 yards, TD
Rushing: Ward 3-39, Storm Woods 8-21
Receiving: Cooks 9-80, TD
Passing: Hogan 8-of-18 for 88 yards.
Rushing: Gaffney 22-145, 3 TDs.
Receiving: Ty Montgomery 3-55.