Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello watched as his overtime pass tumble in midair for an agonizing moment after it was tipped by tight end Colby Parkinson.
“I saw the ball go in the air, held my breath, and then for Colby to come down with it was pretty awesome,” said Costello, who threw for 327 yards and three touchdowns.
It was the last scoring pass, the 23-yarder that Parkinson tipped to himself in the end zone, that completed No. 7 Stanford’s 38-31 comeback victory over No. 20 Oregon on Saturday night.
After Costello’s TD pass to Parkinson, Stanford’s Alameen Murphy intercepted Oregon quarterback Justin Herbert’s pass in the end zone for the victory.
Bryce Love returned after sitting out last week against UC Davis to rest minor injuries. He ran for 89 yards and a touchdown as Stanford remained undefeated with another tough test against No. 8 Notre Dame looming next week.
Costello said the turning point for the Cardinal came in the third quarter, when Oregon had a touchdown overturned that would have pushed the Ducks’ lead to 30-7, and Stanford linebacker Joey Alfieri scooped up a fumble that he ran back 80 yards for a touchdown.
“This game was pretty awesome. It was one of the coolest games I’ve been a part of in terms of highs and lows, and really just staying steady throughout the entire night,” Costello said.
Love’s 22-yard scoring run late in the third quarter cut Oregon’s lead to 24-21, but Cyrus Habibi-Likio scored on a 1-yard run for the Ducks with 4:39 left.
In the final minutes of regulation, Stanford answered with Costello’s 15-yard TD pass to JJ Arcega-Whiteside to narrow it again before Sean Barton recovered CJ Verdell’s fumble on the Stanford 40 with 51 seconds left. Jet Toner hit a 32-yard field to tie it and send the game into overtime.
Herbert threw for 346 yards and a touchdown while receiver Dillon Mitchell caught 14 passes for 239 yards in Oregon’s first real challenge of the season after nonconference wins over Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State.
“Unfortunately we kind of shot ourselves in the foot a couple of times and we did everything we could to just give Stanford the game,” Herbert said.
Oregon came out with a collective tenacity that it hadn’t really shown this season. The Ducks’ first series was capped by Tony Brooks-James’ 7-yard touchdown run. Herbert got Oregon downfield with a 53-yard pass to Mitchell.
The Ducks went up 14-0 on Herbert’s 7-yard pass to Jacob Breeland to open the second quarter.
Arcega-Whiteside scored on a 13-yard pass from Costello for his sixth TD reception of the season. He was tied at third nationally for touchdown catches going into the game.
Oregon answered on the next drive with Verdell’s 48-yard scoring run to go up 21-7. The Ducks added a 38-yard field goal from Adam Stack and ran off the field for halftime celebrating the dominant performance by dancing and waving towels.
The momentum shifted late in the third quarter on Alfieri’s fumble return after Jaylon Redd’s 16-yard touchdown run for Oregon was overturned. Replays, however, appeared to show that Redd remained inbounds.
“We do this drill every Monday in fundamental rotation, the scoop and score drill,” Alfieri said. “We practice it every week. So I was just putting the drill to the field and it worked out pretty well.”
The Pac-12 North is crowded right now with three ranked teams. Joining Stanford and Oregon is No. 10 Washington. Looking ahead, Oregon has Washington at Autzen on Oct. 13, while the Huskies host the Cardinal on Nov. 3.
Stanford also won the last two meetings with the Ducks, including last year’s 49-7 victory in Palo Alto. Love, who was a Heisman finalist, ran for a pair of touchdowns within the first five minutes of the last meeting and finished with 147 yards. But Oregon was missing Herbert, who had a broken collarbone.
“We had an opportunity against the No. 7 team in the country and had some really, really good moments, we just have to be more consistent,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said.
Stanford: Arcega-Whiteside became the fifth Stanford player with 20 career touchdown catches. He’s tied for fourth on Stanford’s career list. … Stanford’s defense went into the game allowing an average of just 7.7 points a game, tops in the nation.
Oregon: It was Dillon Mitchell’s third career game with more than 100 receiving yards. … Former Ducks LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner were among the former players at the game. Former basketball players Dillon Brooks and Jordan Bell were also in the crowd, with current Oregon coach Dana Altman.
BEST EVER? Stanford coach David Shaw was asked if the game was the best of his career.
“It’s hard to say, because my career’s not over, unless you’ve heard something I haven’t heard,” Shaw laughed. “I don’t know. I don’t know. I’m looking forward to next week. I’ll be honest with you: It didn’t surprise me because in the second half we played like we’re capable of playing.”
DECISION: Afterward, Cristobal was asked why Oregon elected to run on second-and-2 in the final minute of regulation rather than taking a knee on consecutive plays. Verdell fumbled, which set up Stanford’s game-tying drive.
“We felt pretty good about the run game,” he said. “We just needed one more to get a first down and close out the game.”
It doesn’t get any easier for Stanford, which visits No, 8 Notre Dame next weekend. The Fighting Irish defeated Wake Forest 56-27 on Saturday
The Ducks play at California next weekend, their first road trip of the season after opening with four straight games at Autzen.
Superstar RB Travis Etienne Announces Return to Clemson for Senior Season
Coming into this season, many thought it was a foregone conclusion that Clemson running back Travis Etienne was going to enter the NFL after he became eligible this year.
Etienne has been one of the best running backs in the nation over his three years at Clemson, making him a surefire top pick in the NFL Draft.
So when Etienne posted a statement to Twitter, many assumed it would be to announce the end of his Clemson career.
Instead Etienne has decided to stay at Clemson for his senior season and try to win another national championship with the Tigers.
Etienne, 20, came to Clemson in 2017 and rushed for 766 yards and 13 touchdowns. Then as a sophomore, Etienne had a breakout season that saw him rush for 1,658 yards and 24 touchdowns.
This season, Etienne added another dimension to his game, becoming a reliable pass-catcher out of the backfield for Trevor Lawrence. Etienne had 37 catches for 432 yards, while still rushing for 1,614 yards on the ground.
Many thought that Etienne would be considered the top running back prospect in the draft, as Pro Football Focus College had him ranked as the top back in the nation this year.
Now Etienne returns to Clemson, where he hopes to win his second championship in three years, but also risks a lot in that pursuit.
As high as his stock was, there really isn’t anything Etienne can do to raise his profile more heading into next year’s draft. He is also risking injury by playing another season in college before the guaranteed money in the NFL.
Hopefully Etienne has a healthy and productive year and can still hold that level of ranking when it is time to enter the 2021 NFL Draft next year.
LSU Tight End Thaddeus Moss Declares for the 2020 NFL Draft
Randy Moss’ son, Thaddeus, hit the grand stage this year, as the tight end was a prominent piece in LSU’s explosive aerial attack.
Now the 21-year-old is following his Hall of Fame father’s footsteps and has declared for the 2020 NFL Draft.
Moss really stood out as the lights shined brightest, turning in his two best games in the College Football Playoff.
In the College Football Playoff Semifinals against Oklahoma, Moss set a career-high with 99 receiving yards on four catches.
Then in the College Football National Championship against Clemson, Moss had the first multi-touchdown game of his career, finding the end zone for two critical touchdown catches.
Moss was really just establishing himself this season, as his collegiate career got off to a really slow start. Moss began at NC State in 2016, but did not get much playing time.
He ultimately decided to transfer to LSU and was forced to sit out the 2017 season due to the transfer rules. Then in 2018, Moss missed the entire season due to the foot injury, allowing him to use a medical redshirt.
Finally this year, Moss played in 13 of LSU’s 15 games and caught 47 passes for 570 yards. He has shown the potential to not only be a great pass-catcher, but also being be a three-down tight end that can block too.
ESPN’s senior draft analyst Mel Kiper currently has Moss ranked as the No. 10 tight end prospect in the draft, but who knows how high he could climb the draft board with a solid performance at the combine.
Moss has the chance to be a really good player in the NFL and considering who his father is, he is likely to be a very popular as well.
Seven LSU Underclassman Declare for the NFL Draft After Winning the National Championship
There is nothing better in sports than going out on top, as winning a championship is always the ultimate goal.
That phenomenon is made even better when you win a championship in college and can move on to the money and fame that comes with joining the professional ranks of the NFL.
The LSU Tigers just won the College Football Playoff National Championship, opening the door for many of their underclassman to move on and declare for the 2020 NFL Draft.
LSU’s leading rusher, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, was the last of seven Tigers underclassman to declare for the draft on Wednesday and their is no telling if more are to come.
Edwarads-Helaire, 20, rushed for 1,414 yards and 16 touchdowns this season. The junior running back was also part of the Tigers potent passing attack, catching 55 passes for 453 yards.
LSU is also losing their leading pass-catcher, as Justin Jefferson led the team with 111 catches and is now turning pro.
Jefferson, 21, was second on the team behind sophomore Ja’Marr Chase in receiving yards and touchdowns, but still put up gaudy numbers in his own right.
By the end of the season, Jefferson racked up 1,540 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Along with their leading rusher and leading pass-catcher, LSU is going to have to replace their leading tackler as well.
Jacob Phillips led all LSU Tigers with his 113 tackles, including eight on Monday in the championship game.
Phillips is also joined by fellow inside linebacker Patrick Queen and Jim Thorpe Award winner Grant Delpit as fellow defensive players going to the NFL.
Delpit, 21, may be the highest-touted player of the bunch, as ESPN draft expert Mel Kiper has him ranked as the top safety on the board and a potential top-10 pick.
Offensive lineman Llyod Cushenberry III (center) and Saahdiq Charles (left tackle) round out LSU’s underclassmen draft class as it stands right now.
Overall, this is a ton of talent that is walking out the door for LSU, leaving a lot of work to be done for the Tigers to remain on top next year.
Still, that is a small price to pay for winning a national championship. Especially in the remarkable fashion that this team rose to this season.
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