Palo Alto, CA – Flashback two weeks – in an always-thrilling clash between teams that have produced many memorable moments over the years, the Oregon Ducks dominated the Stanford Cardinal on September 30, 2023. In what is the final season of Pac-12 Conference play, this victory showcased the unwavering determination and coaching prowess of Ducks Head Coach Dan Lanning, while Stanford Head Coach Troy Taylor found his team facing yet another setback. Last weekend was a bye for both the Ducks and the Cardinal.

Just one week prior to their encounter with the Ducks, the Cardinal had put up an impressive fight against the Arizona Wildcats, narrowly losing by a heartbreaking single point, 21-20. That same Arizona Wildcat team improved enough to take USC all the way to triple overtime at the Los Angeles Coliseum last weekend. Unfortunately, they lost that game 43-41. Still, for the Cardinal, for a team that had suffered an embarrassing loss to the FCS’s Big Sky Conference Sacramento State Hornets earlier in the season, this near-victory against a fellow FBS and Pac-12 Conference opponent hinted at a potential turnaround. Unfortunately for Stanford, the momentum gained from that close contest quickly dissipated when they faced the high-flying Ducks.

Under the stewardship of Coach Lanning, the Ducks have been nothing short of outstanding this season. Their performance on the grass in Palo Alto was no exception. Oregon quarterback Bo Nix continued to shine, delivering another outstanding performance that left spectators in awe. Nix’s impressive display included precise passes and smart decision-making, highlighting his maturity as a quarterback. He orchestrated the Ducks’ offense with precision, keeping the Stanford defense on their toes throughout the game. Nix’s ability to read the field and exploit weaknesses in the Cardinal defense was a testament to his growth as a leader on the field. Indeed, he looked every bit the Heisman candidate he surely is at this point in the season.

Oregon’s punishing defense was equally impressive. Led by Coach Lanning’s tactical brilliance, the Ducks defensive unit executed its game plan flawlessly. Characterized by its relentless pursuit of excellence, and perhaps more reminiscent of the iconic Gang Green defense of the 1990s, the Ducks’ defense was stingy and simply refused to offer Stanford any opportunity to advance the ball. They stifled Stanford’s offensive plays, shut down rushing lanes and applied relentless pressure on every member of the Cardinal offense. Stanford’s offensive line struggled to contain the relentless pass rush, resulting in multiple sacks and hurried throws that often missed their mark. The Cardinal just couldn’t get anything going.

With this resounding victory, the Oregon Ducks improved their season record to a pristine 5-0, remaining undefeated in their pursuit of a championship in this final season of Pac-12 football. Their dominance on both sides of the ball has established them as a formidable force in the college football landscape, and as a viable playoff contender.

On the other side of the field, the Stanford Cardinal find themselves in a challenging position, falling to a disappointing 1-4 record for the season. As they prepare to transition to the Atlantic Coast Conference next year, Stanford can only hope to rectify their course and climb up from the bottom of the standings. Coach Taylor and his staff will need to regroup, make necessary adjustments, recruit exceptionally well, and continue developing talent to be competitive in the future.

In the world of college football, every game is a chapter in a team’s journey, and the Ducks are penning an impressive story this season. Their victory over Stanford not only showcases their talent but also serves as a testament to Dan Lanning’s exceptional coaching ability. While the Ducks look ahead to more challenges in their quest for greatness, the Cardinal must focus on rebuilding and finding their footing.

Oregon now exits the priceless bye week that gave them additional time to prepare for what very well may be their toughest game, a trip to Seattle to face the equally undefeated Washington Huskies on Saturday, October 14. By now, the team has arrived. Make no mistake, the Huskies will be ready. They had a bye as well. The Cardinal head to Colorado to face Coach Deion Sanders and the Buffaloes in a primetime matchup at Folsom Field in Boulder. That game will be on ESPN on the evening of Friday, October 13. Exciting as that may be, all eyes are surely on the action in Montlake. Fans have the Ducks versus the Huskies on the field at 12 PM PST on Saturday, October 14, and ESPN College Gameday on campus as well.

It’s wild in Seattle right now. There’s a lot on the line for both teams. The winner likely marches on toward a Pac-12 Conference championship game berth, and has the potential to be selected to play in the College Football Playoff. The loser could still end up in a bowl game in January, but they might end up playing a less marketable opponent, and they certainly wouldn’t be expected to compete for a national championship. The score doesn’t matter at the end of the day. Winning is all that matters. That’s the only path forward right now.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for nearly two decades, and has been covering NCAA football, including various Pacific-12 Conference member institutions, since 2007. Images taken by Jason Reed for American Presswire and ©2023 Jason Reed for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. Images taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire ©2023 Ahsan Awan for American Presswire subject to unlimited use under license unless otherwise noted. Ahsan Awan can be found on X as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi. Jason Reed can be found on X as @FieldofDD and on Instagram as @fieldofdaydreams.