Oregon Dominates Final Three Quarters, Rolls Stanford 52-31

Jim Harbaugh, Andrew Luck and the Cardinal took a 21-3 lead off of early offense and miscues by the Ducks. Oregon rolled from there behind Darron Thomas and LaMichael James, outscoring Stanford 49-10 and shutting them out in the second half. For more Cardinal coverage, go to the Stanford blog Rule of Tree.

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Ducks Shut Down Cardinal In Second Half To Hand Stanford First Loss

Eugene, OR (Sports Network) - Darron Thomas passed for 238 yards and three touchdowns while running for 117 yards and another score, as fourth-ranked Oregon used a dominant second half to down No. 9 Stanford, 52-31, at Autzen Stadium.

LaMichael James ran for a career-high 257 yards and three touchdowns for Oregon (5-0, 2-0 Pac-10), which allowed 31 points in the first half and looked to be in trouble. But the Ducks entered the game having allowed just seven second-half points all season, and continued that trend by shutting out Stanford over the final two quarters.

Thomas completed 20-of-29 passes and was intercepted twice, while James carried the ball 31 times and punctuated the victory with a 76-yard touchdown run.

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck threw for 341 yards and two touchdowns on 29- of-46 passing. He was also picked off twice for the Cardinal (4-1, 1-1), who were aiming for their first 5-0 start since 1951.

Stepfan Taylor ran for 113 yards and a score in the loss.

Stanford began the second half with the ball looking to expand its 31-24 advantage, but had to punt, and the Ducks evened the game on the ensuing drive.

Oregon progressed into Stanford territory and Thomas ran for a 17-yard gain. A five-yard personal foul penalty on the Cardinal moved the ball to the six, and Thomas found the end zone on the next play. He ran to the right side and used a fake lateral to throw off defenders before crossing the goal line with 8:20 left.

Oregon then got a break during Stanford's next drive. Cardinal receiver Chris Owusu caught a pass near midfield but fumbled after colliding with a Ducks defender. Oregon safety Eddie Pleasant picked up the loose ball and was running up the left sideline before being knocked out of bounds by Luck at the three.

Owusu appeared to be knocked out on the play and lay still as he was attended to by trainers. He was helped off the field and looked stunned on the sideline.

Meanwhile, James got into the end zone on the first play of the ensuing drive for a 38-31 lead.

Stanford looked to answer quickly, as Luck tried a deep pass to begin the Cardinal's next drive. But the throw was off the mark, and Oregon cornerback Cliff Harris hauled in the ball to give the Ducks' offense another chance.

Oregon turned the ball over on downs, but its defense forced Stanford into a three-and-out to regain possession at the Stanford 49. The Ducks reached the Cardinal 25 just as the quarter ended, then scored on the opening play of the fourth.

Receiver D.J. Davis lined up in the slot on the right side and ran a slant route to the left. A run fake got the safety to delay, and Thomas hit Davis with an easy touchdown throw to make it a 45-31 game.

Stanford threatened on its next drive, eventually setting up at the one on a 3rd-and-goal. But Taylor fumbled before Luck recovered, and Luck's fourth-down pass fell incomplete as the Ducks took over.

The Cardinal got the ball back, but their next drive ended when Harris picked off Luck in the back of the end zone with a little more than two minutes to play, and James' 76-yard TD dash with 1:10 left put the game away.

Rob Beard kicked a 22-yard field goal on the game's opening drive to get Oregon on the board, but Stanford dominated the first quarter to take control.

Luck led an 11-play, 70-yard march on his team's first possession, which he capped with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Griff Whalen.

Harris fumbled on the ensuing kickoff, giving Stanford the ball at the Oregon 12, and it took the Cardinal just three plays to score again. On a 3rd-and-8 from the 10, Luck scrambled and got across the goal line to push the lead to 14-3.

Thomas was intercepted near midfield by Stanford's Chase Thomas on the Ducks' next touch, which the Cardinal quickly converted into another touchdown. On the first play from scrimmage, Taylor busted out on a 44-yard run, making it a 21-3 contest.

But the Ducks countered with a score of their own to keep the game from getting out of control. The drive went 85 yards in nine plays and bridged the first two quarters, ending when Thomas connected with an open Jeff Maehl on a 29-yard scoring strike.

Oregon then pulled off an on-side kick and took advantage of the opportunity. The Ducks started their drive at their own 46 and found the end zone on James' five-yard run.

The game continued to turn into a shootout, as Stanford countered with its fourth touchdown. The Cardinal reached the Oregon 36 before Luck used a play fake to get tight end Coby Fleener open over the middle. Luck completed the pass and Fleener ran into the end zone, giving the visitors a 28-17 advantage with 7:30 left.

Oregon then went 75 yards in eight plays, scoring when Thomas aired out a 41- yard pass to Josh Huff along the right sideline.

Following that score the offenses slowed, but with under a minute to play in the first half, Stanford re-gained the ball after Delano Howell picked off Thomas. The interception was somewhat questionable, as it appeared the ball may have hit the ground before Howell gained control, but the call was upheld and the Cardinal took over at their own 32.

Luck led Stanford into Oregon territory, but time became an issue, and Nate Whitaker booted a 46-yard field goal as time expired to make it a 31-24 game at the break.

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Final Injury Update: Oregon Left Tackle Bo Thran Will Play, As Will Stanford's Chase Thomas and Ryan Whalen

From Oregon Football’s Twitter:

Darrion Weems will start at LT today for Oregon in place of Bo Thran. Thran will play in the game

So will Stanford’s starting safety, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

Safety Michael Thomas will play. He practiced Thursday with a bandage/wrap on his leg but moved well in the short time I saw him.

Whalen should play, but how effective he’ll be is still an uncertainty. Ted Miller in Autzen reports.

Whalen is warming up with his teammates, sporting a bulky black sleeve on his left arm. Word is that he will play, which will give QB Andrew Luck one of his favorite weapons back.

That said: The sleeve could be a distraction. It certainly won’t help him catch the ball. And you’d think he might be a little shy leading with his left arm while blocking.

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Ryan Whalen, Michael Thomas Practicing

Andrew Luck’s favorite target looks primed to return to action on Saturday, as does the cornerback who stripped Kevin Prince and sealed the victory over UCLA. Tom FitzGerald of the San Francisco Chronicle reports.

Wide receiver Ryan Whalen, who sustained a reported elbow dislocation against Wake Forest, returned to practice Wednesday, Harbaugh said. … Safety Michael Thomas, who injured an ankle at Notre Dame, is also practicing.

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