Stanford pulled one of the biggest upsets of the 2021 regular season as the Cardinal topped No. 3 Oregon 31-24 in overtime to hand the Ducks their first loss and take out the Pac-12's final undefeated team.
Oregon had a 24-17 lead heading into the final drive of regulation, but Cardinal quarterback Tanner McKee completed a pass to Elijah Higgins as time expired in regulation to unexpectedly send the game to overtime. He then completed a huge pass to John Humphries in overtime to score the game-winning touchdown. Stanford forced a turnover on downs to end the game.
The loss is a major hit to Oregon's chances at the College Football Playoff, not to mention those of the Pac-12 as a whole. The Ducks took center stage in the discussion after traveling on the road and beating Ohio State in The Horseshoe, but a loss makes their path to the CFP more difficult. Oregon cannot afford to lose another game.
Oregon fans took issue with a number of key calls down the stretch, including a targeting call on potential No. 1 draft pick Kayvon Thibodeaux that knocked him out for the fourth quarter.
McKee completed 20 of 36 passes for 230 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Nathaniel Peat rushed for 78 yards. Oregon RB C.J. Verdell rushed for 63 yards and a touchdown before suffering a game-ending injury. Here are three takeaways from Stanford's win over Oregon.
1. Pac-12 playoff case is slipping
When Oregon went on the road and beat Ohio State, the hope was that it could be a significant moment for the Pac-12. The league has only gotten two teams into the College Football Playoff, by far the worst out of any Power Five conference. Oregon's win seemed to give the Pac-12 a trump card over the Big Ten. But with the Ducks' loss, suddenly that advantage becomes much more tenuous. Through five weeks, every team in the Pac-12 has a loss. Only one other team in the conference is ranked -- No. 20 UCLA, which has a battle against Arizona State this week. The path just got harder.
2. Stanford is different with Tanner McKee
The Cardinal started senior Jack West in the opener against Kansas State and were played off the field. Since McKee has taken the full-time reins at quarterback, Stanford has been a different team. After beating USC and Vanderbilt, McKee competed hard against No. 20 UCLA and led the win over Oregon. Stanford has struggled with quarterback play over the past several years. It's played a major role in the program dropping from a consistent Pac-12 contender into a nice bowl team. If McKee is the real deal, it dramatically increases the program's ceiling long term.
3. Oregon has to prevent this from spiraling
Oregon may have lost more than just the game on Saturday. Thibodeaux will be out for the first half of the next game against Cal. Even worse, Verdell could be out after injuring his lower body in the second half, a key moment in the game. Like we mentioned, Oregon's path to the College Football Playoff is extremely perilous. The Ducks have no room for error after the loss, and coming out sloppy against Cal or UCLA in the next two games could spell doom.