EUGENE, Ore. -- A defensive performance for the ages powered one of Stanford's biggest upsets in decades and provided redemption that was two years in the making.
The No. 14 Cardinal took a momentous step toward the Rose Bowl on Saturday night, escaping rowdy Autzen Stadium with a stunning 17-14 overtime victory over top-ranked Oregon.
Jordan Williamson provided the winning points with a 37-yard field goal at the end of the first extra session.
The Cardinal players immediately charged onto the field to congratulate Williamson, whose missed field goals cost Stanford a victory over Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl.
The upset -- Stanford was a three-touchdown underdog -- derailed Oregon's pursuit of the national championship and transformed the Cardinal into the front-runner in the Pac-12 North.
Stanford (9-2, 7-1) will win the division if it defeats UCLA next week in the Rose Bowl or if Oregon (10-1, 7-1) loses to Oregon State.
The North and South division winners meet Nov. 30 in the league title game on the home field of the team with the best conference record.
That would be Stanford -- if it beats the Bruins.
"We've got another game next week, and if we have a chance to play on, so be it," linebacker A.J. Tarpley said.
The signature victory of second-year coach David Shaw's career was Stanford's second upset of a No. 1 team -- it toppled Notre Dame in 1990 -- and provided a large measure of redemption for the Cardinal after lopsided losses to the Ducks the past two years.
"To beat them at their place is a great accomplishment," said tight end Zach Ertz, who had 11 catches, including a 10-yard game-tying touchdown reception with 1:35 remaining.
The Cardinal won despite three turnovers and a lengthy mid-game stretch in which its offense sputtered along.
But Stanford's defense showed why it's one of the best in the nation, holding Oregon to 14 points -- or 41 below its season average.
The Cardinal was disciplined in its assignments, limited Oregon's big plays and tackled brilliantly in one-on-one situations -- an area it has struggled with in the past when matched against the Ducks' speed.
"Our plan wasn't that different," Tarpley said. "We just tackled better. We got our calls in, everybody did their job, and that's how we stopped them."
Freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan played like a veteran and led Stanford on the game-tying drive late in the fourth quarter. His touchdown pass to Ertz in the back left corner of the end zone was initially ruled incomplete but overturned after a lengthy review.
"I knew I caught it, but I wasn't sure if I was inbounds," Ertz said.
As overtime arrived, Stanford appeared more comfortable with the circumstances, having played in two overtimes and a handful of close games this season. The Ducks haven't been in a tight game all year.
"We wanted to get them into a close game, because they hadn't been in one," Tarpley said.
Oregon got the ball first but was again flummoxed by Stanford's swarming defense. The possession ended when Alejandro Maldonado missed a 41-yard field goal.
Stanford nearly lost the ball in overtime when Hogan fumbled, but he managed to recover the loose ball to preserve the possession. Two plays later, Williamson converted from 37 yards.
"It definitely helps," Williamson said when asked if the game-winner atoned for his missed kicks in the Fiesta Bowl.
It will be a short stay atop the BCS standings for Collin Klein, left, after No. 1 Kansas State was upset by Baylor. With No. 2 Oregon losing, Notre Dame should be the top-ranked team after beating Wake Forest. For more college football, see Page 3