STANFORD, Calif. — It was a higher level of competition than the past two games, but the result was the same.
After keeping Montana and Nevada out of the end zone at Autzen Stadium, No. 16 Oregon (3-1, 1-0) held Stanford to just two field goals at Stanford Stadium in a 21-6 Pac-12 Conference football win Saturday.
After giving up a last-second touchdown to Auburn in its season-opening loss, Oregon’s defense under new defensive coordinator Andy Avalos has gone three straight games without allowing a touchdown for the first time since 1935.
The Cardinal (1-3, 0-2) didn’t come particularly close to an end zone, either, only crossing midfield three times and never getting past the Oregon 14-yard line.
K.J. Costello completed 16 of 30 passes for 120 yards and an interception and top tight end Colby Parkinson was held without a catch on five targets as the Cardinal only recorded 234 yards.
With a young and beat-up offensive line, Stanford doesn’t resemble some of the teams of recent years that beat up opponents with a physical ground game. Still, Oregon’s front seven recorded five sacks and the secondary had eight pass break-ups and never allowed a big play.
“We weren’t going to allow them to come in and bully us,” said defensive back Thomas Graham Jr., who had a game-high nine tackles.
Stanford’s best possession was its opening drive, which included seven runs for 55 yards and ended on a 32-yard field goal by Jet Toner. But Oregon forced six straight punts after that.
“We knew it was going to be a tough and physical game up front,” Oregon coach Mario Cristobal said. “Tremendous effort by the defense.”
Stanford did get to the Ducks 39 with two minutes left in the half, but Troy Dye’s quarterback hurry forced an incompletion on a screen pass, and then end Gus Cumberlander got to Costello on third down on a three-man rush.
“Not only our straight rush but twists and our stunts, our disguised coverages, just switching the leverages of some of our back end guys really affected the quarterback,” Cristobal said.
Still, Stanford stayed within 14-3 early in the fourth quarter until an Oregon lineman hit Costello’s arm on a follow-through, forcing a wobbly pass that Jevon Holland intercepted at the Stanford 35. Two minutes later, Justin Herbert threw his third TD pass and the Ducks had a 21-3 lead.
Stanford made it to the Oregon 14 later in the quarter, but Nick Pickett had a pass break-up in the end zone, and a sack by La’Mar Winston Jr. ended the threat.
The defense now has an extra week of rest before putting its touchdown streak on the line against No. 23 California in Eugene on Oct. 5, though Cristobal said he won’t be focusing on the streak.
“I think once you really start talking about it and focusing on it you start forgetting what gets you to that,” Cristobal said. “We're just focusing on each play at a time and finish it and then onto the next one. Works for them.”