Home Oregon Ducks Birds vs Nerds: Reliving the last ten years of the Oregon-Stanford rivalry

Birds vs Nerds: Reliving the last ten years of the Oregon-Stanford rivalry

Note: If you find anything inaccurate in this article, please comment or call me out on Twitter (@folkestad3). There are a lot of numbers in here, and I feel dizzy just thinking about checking them all again. Thanks for reading!

Anyone who’s been paying attention to Pac-12 football—or college football at all, for that matter—in the last ten years will understand the immense significance of the annual Oregon-Stanford matchup. From 2009 to 2015, the winner of this game went on to win the conference. Oregon and Stanford were more than just pivotal teams in the “Conference of Champions”—they indisputably ran it. 

Prior to 2009, the game between Oregon and Stanford was nothing more than another conference game. The two programs never played a top-25 matchup until 2010 (starting a four-year trend). It rarely held national importance for both teams, and the two programs had little reason to hate each other more than any other regular conference opponent. That all changed in 2009. Since then, eight out of the 10 meetings between Oregon and Stanford have included at least one team in the top 10, and these two programs have become the standard for the Pac-12.

Regardless of how you measure success, these programs are close. Like, really close. Stats!

Since (beginning of) 2009OregonStanford
Postseason appearances1010
BCS + New Year’s Six + Playoff appearances65
Preseason AP Top-25 appearances109
Top-10 appearances in Final BCS/CFP rankings65
Pac-10/12 Conference Championships43
AP Top-25 appearances (incl. pre- and post-season polls)121120
W-L record (win %)101-36 (.737)103-34 (.752)
Wins against each other46

It’s worth noting that while Stanford has had an elite decade, they have not been able to make it to the Natty (which Oregon has done twice) or the College Football Playoff (even the Huskies have done that). Oregon has also had a Heisman winner since then, but Stanford maintained consistency during the recent dip in Oregon’s records and produced five (yes, five) Heisman runners-up.

W-L record against conference opponents since 2009 (by year)OregonStanford
Totals67-23 (.744)69-22 (.758)

*=Pac-10/12 Conference Champion, ^=Pac-12 North Champion

And, just for fun, here’s a look at each team’s record against each team in the conference since 2009:

W-L record vs conference opponents since 2009 (by team)OregonStanford
vs Arizona6-35-1
vs Arizona State7-16-1
vs Colorado5-13-1
vs Utah4-2*1-3
vs UCLA6-111-0
vs USC4-28-5
Total vs Pac-12 South24-10 (.706)27-10 (.730)
vs Oregon6-4
vs Oregon State9-19-1
vs Cal9-19-1
vs Stanford4-6
vs Washington8-27-3
vs Washington State6-47-3
Total vs Pac-12 North27-13 (.675)31-9 (.775)

*=does not include Oregon’s win against Utah in 2009, as the Utes were not a part of the Pac-12 yet.

Note: Games before the Pac-12 existed were not factored into the total records vs North and South opponents. Pac-12 Championship Game results were included.

The dual-dominance demonstrated here is even more impressive when considering where these two programs have been historically. Stanford will always be an academics-first institution, and Oregon was almost perennially mediocre before a certain game in 1994.

Before we get started with the recaps, a few housekeeping notes: for rankings, I used the official BCS/CFP standings when I could. Since they weren’t released until midway through each season, I used the AP Poll for early-season games. Home teams are listed first. All the links on year numbers redirect to whatever highlights I could find from each game.

This last decade of matchups has produced some of the most important regular season games in all of college football. Don’t believe me? Let’s dive in.

2009: Stanford 51, #7 Oregon 42

Quick info#7 OregonStanford
W-L entering game7-15-3
Head Coach (season #)Chip Kelly (1)Jim Harbaugh (3)
Season result10-3, Rose Bowl L8-5, Sun Bowl L

Oregon was having an impressive season after bouncing back from new Head Coach Chip Kelly’s sucker-punch of a debut loss on the blue turf at Boise State. The Ducks rattled off seven straight wins—five critical conference matchups—including a dominant 42-3 win over then-#6 Cal in Autzen. The Ducks were also riding high off a signature win. A week before, USC had been given a frightful awakening in a matchup of top-10 teams. College Gameday was on hand, and the Ducks balled out on a national stage, thrusting themselves into the national spotlight. The Ducks had also beaten Stanford seven years in a row.

Stanford, however, was 5-3. The Cardinal suffered a non-conference loss to Wake Forest in week 2, and had road woes against the Beavers and Wildcats in October. Still, freshman quarterback Andrew Luck was finding his footing under Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. The undisputed star, though, was senior running back (and future Heisman snub) Toby Gerhart. Gerhart was the Pac-10’s leading rusher in a year that saw LaMichael James, Jacquizz Rodgers, Joe McKnight, Jahvid Best, Shane Vereen, and Chris Polk grace the gridiron.

The Cardinal bullied Oregon’s defense with Gerhart, giving him 38 carries for 223 yards (a school record) and 3 TDs. That opened up the field for Andrew Luck’s 12-20 for 251 yards and 2 TDs. Oregon’s Jeremiah Masoli had an impressive 21-37 for 389 total yards and 4 total TDs, but freshman LaMichael James’ 214 yards from scrimmage and 1 TD wasn’t enough, and Stanford’s students stormed the field. It was the first bowl-eligible season for the Cardinal since Ty Willingham took them to the Seattle Bowl in 2001 (how ironic).

Oregon still went on to have one of the most successful seasons in program history, securing a pair of classic wins against Arizona in the desert and maybe the biggest Civil War ever in Autzen, denying both teams a Rose Bowl berth and taking the Pac-10 themselves. It seemed as though the Ducks were bound to stumble at some point against a loaded Pac-10, and even winning out would not have hypothetically sent them into the National Championship—both Alabama and Texas were undefeated when they met in the title game. The Ducks ultimately lost to Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, but a 10-win season was not exactly the worst place to start for a first-year head coach.

The 2009 shootout produced 93 combined points and over 1,000 combined yards. it was the highest-scoring game of the year in all of the Pac-10.

Stanford ended up beating #9 USC in the Coliseum the next week, but lost a thrilling Big Game on the Farm in the following game. They ended the regular season 8-4 before losing to Oklahoma in the Sun Bowl.

2010: #4 Oregon 52, #9 Stanford 31

Quick info#4 Oregon#9 Stanford
W-L entering game4-04-0
Head Coach (season #)Chip Kelly (2)Jim Harbaugh (4)
Season result12-1, Natty L12-1, Orange Bowl L

The Ducks welcomed Stanford to Autzen after a hard-fought road win against Arizona State to start conference play. Oregon’s new quarterback, Darron Thomas, was already picking up where Masoli left off, piling up massive wins against New Mexico, Tennessee, and Portland State. LaMichael James was included in the early whispers of Heisman candidacy, and Nick Aliotti’s defense had only allowed seven total points in the second half through four games.

Like Oregon, Stanford was 4-0, but had not faced a real test, beating Sacramento State, UCLA, Wake Forest, and a 1-2 Notre Dame handily. Stanford had a Heisman candidate of their own, too. Andrew Luck and the Stanford offense were bludgeoning defenses, averaging over 200 yards of both passing and rushing offense per game. Their defense was stout, too, allowing less than 14 points per game coming in.

Stanford jumped out to a scary 21-3 lead early thanks to a pair of Oregon turnovers, but the Ducks struck back quickly. After a Jeff Maehl touchdown catch, Rob Beard recovered his own surprise onside kick in one of the ballsiest Chip Kelly moves of all-time. The Ducks cut the lead to 31-24 by the end of the first half before rattling off 28 unanswered points in the second half, thanks in part to Darron Thomas’ fake of the year and LaMichael’s 65-yard explosion. James finished with 257 yards and 3 TDs. Stanford blew multiple red zone trips and Cliff Harris picked off Luck twice. In all, the Ducks earned over 600 yards. Oregon ran Stanford off the field in the second half—something they did every game but two in 2010. This time, it was Oregon fans storming the field.

If the College Football Playoff had existed in 2010, both Oregon and Stanford would have been in it. Stanford ran the table and clobbered Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl, while the Ducks also won out and nearly beat Auburn in the BCS National Championship Game. In the last year of the Pac-10, this early October game pretty much decided the conference and an eventual spot in the title game.

2011: #4 Stanford 30, #7 Oregon 53

Quick info#7 Oregon#4 Stanford
W-L entering game8-19-0
Head Coach (season #)Chip Kelly (3)David Shaw (1)
Season result12-2, Rose Bowl W11-2, Fiesta Bowl L

Oregon rebounded from an opening day loss against LSU to decimate eight straight opponents. The Ducks were loaded, with nearly every key starter returning on offense. Add freshman De’Anthony Thomas to the mix and the Ducks had a ton of offensive weapons at their disposal.

Stanford felt like this was their year. Andrew Luck was having a Heisman-caliber senior season. New head coach David Shaw had picked up right where Jim Harbaugh left off—the Cardinal were undefeated, having only stumbled against USC but escaping in triple overtime. Oregon was their last major roadblock to a shot at the National Championship. Stanford also maintained the longest winning streak in the country at 17 games—their last loss coming to Oregon the year prior.

Remember those offensive weapons I mentioned? Darron Thomas completed three touchdown passes to three different receivers. LaMichael James scored three touchdowns of his own, too. The Ducks racked up big plays on both sides of the ball, using their speed to get past Stanford on a comically slick grass field. Stanford’s five turnovers allowed the Ducks to maintain a two-score lead by the fourth quarter, with Boseko Lokombo’s pick-six sealing the game late.

Oregon finished the season 12-2 after a heartbreaking loss to USC and a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin. The Ducks won the conference for the third year in a row and finally got a coveted bowl win under Chip Kelly.

Stanford finished the season with wins against Cal and Notre Dame, but lost a thrilling Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State in a matchup of third- and fourth-ranked teams. It’s hard to believe Stanford wouldn’t have finished the season in the Natty if Oregon hadn’t won this game. For the second season in a row, though, both teams entered bowl season in the top five.

2012: #2 Oregon 14, #13 Stanford 17 (OT)

Quick info#2 Oregon#13 Stanford
W-L entering game10-08-2
Head Coach (season #)Chip Kelly (4)David Shaw (2)
Season result12-1, Fiesta Bowl W12-2, Rose Bowl W

This may have been the most complete Oregon Ducks squad of all-time. Freshman Marcus Mariota was lighting it up as the perfect linchpin in Chip Kelly’s offense, and the Ducks had plastered all ten of their opponents, averaging 54.8 points per game—the most in the nation. Kenjon Barner was running all over everyone in his senior season and Marcus was showing us why he would go on to win the Heisman two years later.

Stanford had already slipped up twice, with their own freshman QB Kevin Hogan not quite filling the shoes of the two-time Heisman finalist Luck. Early in the season, Stanford barely beat San Jose State before upsetting #2 USC and then losing to Washington (go figure). They had the best run defense in the country—allowing only 54.8 yards per game—but faltered again against an undefeated Notre Dame after the Irish somehow kept Stepfan Taylor out of the end zone in overtime. With two losses, Stanford’s trip to Oregon was fueled purely by revenge.

And they got it. The Cardinal turned the game into a defensive struggle. Each team racked up over 400 yards of offense, but the score remained tied at 14s entering overtime. In that overtime, Oregon Kicker Alejandro Maldonado missed a 41-yard field goal, haunting Oregon fans as they saw their National Championship hopes slip away for the second time in as many years via a missed field goal. Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson converted his 37-yarder and Stanford took home the win.

Oregon fans largely remember this season as the best that never was. The Ducks finished off the season by manhandling a ranked Oregon State team (lol) and beating fifth-ranked Kansas State in a Fiesta Bowl that was over from the opening kickoff. It’s worth noting that undefeated Notre Dame and 1-loss Alabama were that year’s National Championship participants, and Bama wiped the floor with Manti Te’o & Co. If the Playoff existed in this era, the Ducks would have been in it.

Stanford ended up dethroning the Ducks for the Pac-12 title and beating Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. The game against Oregon propelled the Cardinal to a 12-2 record—not bad at all for a team that lost twice in the first six weeks.

2013: #5 Stanford 26, #3 Oregon 20

Quick info#3 Oregon#5 Stanford
W-L entering game8-07-1
Head Coach (season #)Mark Helfrich (1)David Shaw (3)
Season result11-2, Alamo Bowl W11-3, Rose Bowl L

Once again, the Ducks and Cardinal were both in the hunt for a National Title.

Oregon was being Oregon. Their offense was as unstoppable as ever—the Ducks were averaging 55.6 points per game—and their closest game all year had been a 21-point win at the 16th-ranked Huskies.

Stanford was literally pushing teams around the field, running the ball about three times as much as they passed it and playing keep-away from spread offensive systems modeled after Oregon’s. Their offensive line bludgeoned defenses at a pulp, making it easier for Tyler Gaffney to rack up yardage. Still, Stanford failed to get in the end zone on their final drive against unranked Utah, giving them one loss on the season.

Stanford controlled this game. they took a 17-0 lead into halftime and kept the ball away from a banged-up Marcus Mariota. The Ducks got back into the game in the fourth quarter, turning Stanford’s field goal attempt into six points the other way and scoring a touchdown after an onside kick recovery, but it was too little too late. The Cardinal suffocated the clock and Oregon left demoralized.

Everyone knew what the game plan was, and Stanford executed it well, running the ball 66 times and attempting only 13 passes. They possessed the ball for over 42 minutes.

The Ducks clearly invested a lot into the Stanford game, and by the time they traveled to the desert to play a fired-up Arizona, there was a clear lack of motivation, losing 42-16. Still, the Ducks won a thrilling Civil War in Eugene and capped off the season by spanking Texas 30-7 in the Alamo Bowl.

Stanford lost to USC the week after beating Oregon but still won the Pac-12 and went to the Rose Bowl, where they fell to Michigan State (aka Stanford 2.0).

2014: #5 Oregon 45, Stanford 16

Quick info#5 OregonStanford
W-L entering game7-15-3
Head Coach (season #)Mark Helfrich (2)David Shaw (4)
Season result13-2, College Football Playoff8-5, Foster Farms Bowl W

The 2014 Ducks were on a mission. Helfrich’s second season saw the Ducks fly through opponents on offense, although there were some question marks on defense. Oregon had earned a signature top-10 win against Michigan State early in the year. The only blemish on their resume was a 31-24 home loss to Arizona that was largely chalked up to injuries.

Stanford was clearly struggling in 2014. Their first three ranked opponents (USC, Notre Dame, and ASU) netted three losses by the end of October, and the Cardinal were left to play spoiler against Oregon.

Oregon was back with a vengeance for Stanford, though, and the Ducks treated the Cardinal like any other Pac-12 opponent, jumping out to an early lead and keeping the Cardinal out of touching distance. Mariota had four all-purpose TDs and the Ducks cruised to a victory over Stanford.

Oregon’s early-season loss to Arizona was forgiven and avenged. The Ducks blasted the Wildcats in the Pac-12 Championship Game and won the first-ever College Football Playoff contest against Jameis’ Seminoles. Mariota won the Heisman but the Ducks fell to Urban Meyer and Ohio State in the title game.

Stanford lost again next week to Utah and ended up going to the Foster farms Bowl, where they beat Maryland 45-21.

2015: #7 Stanford 36, Oregon 38

Quick infoOregon#7 Stanford
W-L entering game6-38-1
Head Coach (season #)Mark Helfrich (3)David Shaw (5)
Season result9-4, Alamo Bowl L8-5, Foster Farms Bowl W

After Marcus Mariota left for the NFL, Oregon filled the gap with Vernon Adams Jr., a graduate transfer who suffered a finger injury early in the year. That injury contributed to the Ducks losing a hard-fought week two rematch in East Lansing, and the Ducks quickly racked up two home losses to Utah and Washington State.

Stanford had suffered an embarrassing week one loss to Northwestern but won eight straight games after that, edging their way into the top 10 and eyeing a shot at the Playoff. Christian McCaffrey was leading the offense, with seven straight 100-yard rushing games. In many ways, this game was a role reversal from the year before, with Oregon looking to spoil Stanford’s mostly-dominant season.

Unlike Stanford the year before, however, Oregon pulled off the upset. The Ducks took advantage of two Kevin Hogan fumbles in the fourth quarter, gaining an eight-point lead. Stanford marched down the field and scored with 10 seconds left, but the two-point conversion failed, and the Ducks ended the Cardinal’s Playoff chances.

The Ducks never really found their footing in 2015, eventually blowing the Alamo Bowl to TCU.

Stanford pulled off close wins against Cal, #4 Notre Dame, and USC to win the Pac-12 and go to the Rose Bowl, where they beat Iowa handily.

2016: Oregon 27, Stanford 52

Quick infoOregonStanford
W-L entering game3-66-3
Head Coach (season #)Mark Helfrich (4)David Shaw (6)
Season result4-810-3, Sun Bowl W

2016 was a down year for both programs, most notably Oregon. The Ducks couldn’t recover from an early blown game at Nebraska, losing five straight games and losing confidence along the way. Stanford had their own struggles, getting blown out by both Washington schools and watching their conference hopes slip away each week.

This game itself was pretty irrelevant; Stanford’s Keller Chryst shined in his third start and carved up Oregon’s historically bad secondary. McCaffrey racked up 3 TDs of his own and the game was over in the first half. Justin Herbert was still being thrown into the flames in his freshman season, and his 274 yards and 2 TDs came along with 2 INTs.

Oregon vs Stanford in 2016.
Daniel Hartwig [CC BY 2.0], via Flickr

2016 was the first season in Pac-12 history in which Oregon or Stanford wouldn’t claim the conference title. Oregon still fulfilled their role as spoilers by beating Utah in Rice-Eccles Stadium a week later, but the Ducks’ first Civil War loss since 2007 put the nail in the coffin on a deeply disappointing season. Mark Helfrich, who had been to a National Championship two years earlier, was replaced by Willie Taggart in the offseason.

Stanford won out, but the Huskies claimed the Pac-12 North and the Cardinal went to the Sun Bowl, where they beat a basketball school.

2017: Stanford 49, Oregon 7

Quick infoOregonStanford
W-L entering game4-26-3
Head Coach (season #)Willie Taggart (1)David Shaw (7)
Season result7-5, Las Vegas Bowl L9-5, Alamo Bowl L

Oregon had a rough year in 2017. They had snuck into the top 25 by the time they opened conference play, but a close loss to Arizona State quickly booted them. Justin Herbert got injured against Cal, and Oregon’s offense was helpless without him. Royce Freeman was doing all he could, but every team the Ducks faced was able to game plan against him.

Stanford was a similar story in 2017, dropping out of the top 25 after early losses to USC and San Diego State. The Cardinal did get an important road win against ranked Utah the week before, and Bryce Love was racking up 100-yard performances every week.

Stanford’s Bryce Love and JJ Arcega-Whiteside torched the Ducks, who couldn’t keep up on either side of the ball. Justin Herbert was out with a broken collarbone, and Braxton Burmeister was completely overwhelmed. Stanford stacked the box and held Royce Freeman to 143 yards rushing, giving Oregon very few options offensively.

Oregon stumbled through the rest of the regular season before blowing out the Beavers in the Civil War. Taggart left for Florida State before the Las Vegas Bowl against Boise State, which the Ducks lost.

Stanford lost a tough game in the Palouse two games later, but bounced back with a convincing win over #8 Notre Dame before losing the Pac-12 Championship Game to USC. The Cardinal lost the Alamo Bowl to TCU by two points.

2018: #20 Oregon 31, #7 Stanford 38 (OT)

Quick infoOregonStanford
W-L entering game3-03-0
Head Coach (season #)Mario Cristobal (1)David Shaw (8)
Season result9-4, Redbox Bowl W9-4, Sun Bowl W

Both Oregon and Stanford had high hopes coming into last year’s matchup. It had been a while since both teams had national implications riding on this game, and the atmosphere was as intense as ever in Autzen.

Lee Corso told the Ducks faithful that Justin Herbert was the #1 overall pick on College Gameday that morning in Eugene, and he played like it for about three quarters. there was still a lot to be determined for the Ducks, but they knew they had a quarterback.

Stanford had faced and beaten a ranked opponent already (USC), giving them a top-10 ranking heading into the showdown in Eugene.

Oregon had the game in control deep into the third quarter. The scoreboard read 30-7 before Jaylon Redd’s touchdown was overturned and the Ducks gifted Stanford a touchdown the other way. Questionable calls from the officials and Oregon coaches allowed Stanford to get back into the game multiple times, and they did. Quarterback KJ Costello fed Arcega-Whiteside and tight end Colby Parkinson to scrape out an overtime victory, leaving Duck fans stupefied as to how their team blew a game that was completely in Oregon’s grasp.

Oregon redeemed themselves with an overtime victory against Washington a few weeks later, but lost three conference road games before whupping the Beavers and clawing out a 7-6 Redbox Bowl win against Michigan State.

Stanford also saw their Pac-12 hopes crumble quickly, losing their next two games and settling for their own one-point bowl win against Pitt in the Sun Bowl.

So now…

Oregon enters this year’s matchup at 2-1 after choking away another sure win against Auburn in week one. The Ducks still have high hopes and are looking to avenge whatever happened last year against the Cardinal.

Stanford has definitely not been their best. After beating Northwestern unconvincingly in their opener, they lost to USC and UCF, allowing 45 points in each contest. Still, they will be motivated for a rivalry that has grown more strenuous in the last 10 years.

As an Oregon fan, I know I should have little reason to worry about this one. The Ducks are a two-score favorite and have shown they can compete with the nation’s top teams. But I am still extremely nervous. Stanford is a machine. It wouldn’t be tough to convince me that all their players are robots created by a Silicon Valley tech company. They also don’t have any fans, which makes them weirdly difficult to hate.

Realistically, though, I expect the Ducks to go out and make big plays on the Farm this weekend. Cristobal knows his team is fully capable of earning a convincing win, and his team certainly has a reason to be motivated.

No matter where this matchup goes in the future, the Golden Age of the Oregon-Stanford rivalry definitely produced some of the most intense and important matchups in the recent history of college football.

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