EUGENE, Ore. — Less than a minute remained Saturday night in Autzen Stadium, and the Ducks were two yards away from clinching an emphatic, if harrowing, victory over Stanford.
Oregon led by three, and the Cardinal had just one timeout left. Take a knee twice, then punt, and the UO football team would leave Stanford time for two or three plays before time expired. Mario Cristobal chose instead to rely on a rushing attack that had netted 15 yards on the previous two plays.
“We’re going to be aggressive,” the UO head coach said. “In our eyes, when our offensive line is playing like it did against them, and knocking people off the ball, you trust your guys to get it done.”
True, he acknowledged as well, “a lot of things can go a lot of different ways. And it’s easy to second-guess after.”
What ensued was disastrous. Redshirt freshman CJ Verdell, who was enjoying a breakout night, was close to the first-down marker, tried to fight for extra yards and was stripped of the ball. Stanford recovered, drove to a game-tying field goal as regulation ended, then scored in overtime to win, 38-31.