With his team up 23-0 and imposing its will on both sides of the ball, Stanford head coach David Shaw called his offense together before the start of the fourth quarter and delivered a message:
"We got to the fourth quarter and Coach Shaw said, 'We're not going to pass any more. We're done. We're going to run the ball and we're going to run them out of the stadium,'" offensive lineman David Yankey recalled. "And that's what we tried to do."
Though a blocked field goal that was returned for a touchdown and a converted onside kick brought some late drama, Stanford was largely successful in accomplishg that. Following a week in which former Cardinal offensive lineman Jonathan Martin - and by extension Stanford's football program - was (unfairly) criticized in some corners for being overly sensitive and even soft, Stanford slowed one of the nation's most explosive teams by dominating the trenches on both sides of the ball.
"We want to talk about being the bullies of the conference and that we're going to be one of the most physical teams around," Yankey said.
"We talk about body blows. We want to grind down our opponent throughout all four quarters of the game and I think we did a good job doing that tonight."
After asserting its physical dominance on the field, Cardinal players Shayne Skov, Tyler Gaffney and A.J. Tarpley attended the postgame press conference wearing nerd glasses. The photo quickly went viral. The image was a perfect embodiment of Stanford football's new place in the college football world. A program that was once the laughingstock of the Pac-12 now proudly asserts its physical dominance on the field and its intelligence off it.
The scene perfectly summed up what was, as David Yankey said postgame, "a Nerd Nation kind of night".
#Stanford players embracing #NerdNation postgame. pic.twitter.com/em5DuCQZfI- Andy Drukarev (@StanfordRivals) November 8, 2013
David Shaw took an unusual step to prepare for Oregon. In addition to watching film of the Ducks from this season, he went back and watched each of the Cardinal's previous five meetings with Oregon.
"I just watched every single one of them, what was good, what was not good in all three phases," Shaw said.
Shaw said that he hadn't gone back and reviewed that many previous games for other opponents, but that Oregon was a special case.
"They've had such great carryover on their coaching staff," Shaw said. "(Watching the past games allowed us to) really look at things that they've changed, things that we've changed, things that maybe worked before or things that didn't work before that we don't need to try again. It was really just getting an idea of the recent history of this game."
The atmosphere inside Stanford Stadium featured a noise and enthusiasm level rarely witnessed on The Farm. Several players commented after the game that the home crowd was one of the best, if not the best, they'd witnessed in their Cardinal careers.
"The stadium was electric tonight," Yankey said. "It was awesome to see all the fans come out. There were a lot of chants, just a lot more noise than there usually is and that comes along with a big-time game."
A reporter then asked Yankey if Stanford Stadium was no longer 'The Library' (a name Stanford's players have assigned to the stadium)?
"They must have different rules in the library now," Yankey quipped.
It's hard to imagine a quarterback having a better night completing 54 percent of his passes for 103 yards than Kevin Hogan did on Thursday. A large reason for that was Hogan's opportune scrambling. He took advantage of his athleticism to convert multiple third downs and scored an 11-yard touchdown run. In total, Hogan gained 57 yards on eight carries, a career high.
"He didn't force the ball, was smart," Shaw said. "All the runs weren't designed runs. Some of those were passes. But when they drop eight guys, that's what we talked about. They drop eight guys out, check the ball down or scramble. And scramble forward for positive yards. And he did that. He was very aggressive, very smart."
"The combination of running game and play-action pass and an athletic quarterback, when we execute, it's fun to watch."
Defensive end Henry Anderson was Stanford's third-leading tackler in his return from a knee injury. He said that he felt physically solid in his first game since mid-September.
"I felt good," Anderson said. "There were some points when my knee, I was kind of thinking about my knee in the back of my head in some pass rush moves where I tried to cut real quick. Otherwise, on run plays when I'm kind of going more straight ahead it felt ocmrotable. I kind of got cut from the side one play on the bad leg and I got up and was fine. So it felt good out there."
The Cardinal is now 31-1 in its last 32 games played in the state of California. Its only loss during that stretch was to Oregon in 2011. Stanford is 32-3 at home since beating Cal in 2007.
Stanford had two drives of 20 or more plays.
Michael Rector is now averaging 41 yards per reception on the season.
Tyler Gaffney, who set a Stanford single-game record with 45 carries, is now ranked fourth in school history with 25 career rushing touchdowns. Stepfan Taylor has the school rushing touchdown record with 40.