By Jibriel Taha
Stanford (3-7, 2-6 Pac-12) dropped its fifth straight game and fell to Oregon State (6-4, 4-3 Pac-12) 35-14 on Saturday afternoon. The defeat broke an 11-game win streak over the Beavers that began in 2010.
With sophomore quarterback Tanner McKee ruled out for the second straight week, head coach David Shaw turned the keys to the offense over to true freshman Ari Patu.
The first half was characterized by offensive struggles for the Cardinal. Stanford was only given the ball five times, and those possessions resulted in two punts, an interception, a blocked field goal and a kneel-down to send the game to halftime.
On the other hand, the Oregon State offense continuously threatened the Cardinal in the first half. The Beavers entered Stanford territory on all four of their first-half possessions, managing two rushing touchdowns to put themselves up 14-0 at the break.
The two-possession game got worse right out of the gate after the half. On third-and-two from the Oregon State 33-yard line, Beavers quarterback Chance Nolan found an open Trevon Bradford who broke a tackle and took it to the house for a 67-yard score. The extra point was tacked on, and the Beavers led 21-0.
Stanford responded on the very next drive, as Patu registered the first touchdown pass of his career when he found sophomore tight end Benjamin Yurosek for an 8-yard score.
But things did not get better for the Cardinal. Patu left the game with an injury, senior quarterback Dylan Plautz threw an interception in his first appearance this season and junior running back Austin Jones fumbled. The Beavers capitalized on their opportunities, taking a commanding 35-7 lead early in the fourth quarter.
Plautz and sixth-year quarterback Isaiah Sanders split time in the fourth quarter and were able to drive the Cardinal down the field for a touchdown. The 14-play, 75-yard drive was capped off by an 18-yard run by junior running back Nathaniel Peat. That was all of the scoring for the day, and the Beavers sealed a 35-14 victory.
Patu was 7-for-14 for 51 yards before he left the game.
“I thought Ari went out there and missed a couple as you would expect a true freshman to miss, and they came out there and we had a couple of drops,” Shaw said. “What we talked about during the week is, we can’t put the pressure on the freshman.”
Coming into the game, the strong Oregon State rushing game was expected to have its way with the Cardinal rush defense. That forecast came true, as the Beavers recorded 218 yards on the ground. However, their passing game shined as well, as Nolan went 19-for-25 for 257 yards.
The Cardinal made notable defensive adjustments heading into the game, employing a four-stanfordman front significantly more often this week after giving up over 400 rushing yards to Utah last week.
“The missed tackles really killed us,” Shaw said. “There weren’t a lot of wide open lanes for those guys to run through. We squeezed a lot of those holes much better than we did a week ago, but we had too many opportunities.”
Now eliminated from bowl eligibility, the Cardinal will turn their attention to the Big Game against Cal (3-6, 2-4 Pac-12) next weekend.
“Guys are just gonna have to come back ready to work, brush this one off, and win the game next week,” senior linebacker Jacob Magnum-Farrar said. “Bottom line.”
Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. PT on the Farm.