STANFORD, Calif. — Inside the Oregon locker room after its 31-24 overtime loss to Stanford on Saturday, there was an unspoken understanding about what it meant. It will take an unlikely set of circumstances for the third-ranked Ducks to reach the College Football Playoff.
“[There are] a lot of guys hurting in that locker room,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “We should be. We all should be hurting and we just didn’t do enough.”
Cristobal praised his team’s ability to respond from a poor first half to, seemingly, take control after being down 17-7 at halftime but bemoaned the mistakes that let the game reach overtime.
“Certainly, you appreciate and are proud of the way that we played with toughness and with effort,” he said. “But we didn’t play with enough discipline today and we didn’t coach with enough discipline today. And in the end, it ends up costing us the game.”
With one minute, 44 seconds left in the game, Oregon led 24-17 and Stanford faced 2nd-and-19 from its own 4-yard line. At that point, the Cardinal had managed just nine yards of total offense in the second half and an Oregon win seemed imminent.
But Stanford responded, marching 96 yards on 10 plays to tie the score. The drive was largely defined by three Oregon penalties — two personal fouls and defensive holding on the final timed play of the game.
The validity of those flags can be debated but Cristobal did not try to pass blame.
“Our team has to make sure that times like this when the noise surrounds the program, you got to make sure that you stick together, have each other’s back and go attack the processes that are going to put you back on track to be 1-0,” he said. “That’s the simplicity of our message and that’s the simplicity of our process.”
Cristobal said the apparent leg injury to CJ Verdell appears significant and he is unsure when the running back will return.
For Stanford, the win has the potential to be a springboard into what appears to be a wide-open Pac-12 North.
“I think we needed that,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “We needed to be ahead and fight through adversity and find a way to win against a really good football team.”
It was the Cardinal’s fifth win against a top-5 team in Shaw’s 11-year tenure and takes him to 93 wins all time, tied for No. 10 in conference history with former Oregon State coach Mike Riley.