STANFORD -- If you're Stanford, you can't really stop the rampaging Oregon Ducks, you can only hope to ...
That's what the Cardinal did in a thunderous 26-20 victory on Thursday before a roaring Stanford Stadium crowd and with a defensive performance for the ages.
Who else can toy with and topple Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota the way Stanford's defense did? Nobody.
Who else can grind the Ducks' defense into putty with run after run after run -- and rack up not one but two epic 96-yard scoring drives -- the way Stanford's offense did?
Nobody can. Nobody has. Except the steady, heady, stomping Cardinal. Again.
"We knew it would be a test of wills," linebacker Shayne Skov said after his 10-tackle whirlwind performance. "It was two different approaches, two different tempos,
"One team was going to dictate how the game would go."
And who else can beat theoretically unbeatable Oregon and then come to the postgame news conference in what Skov called "nerd glasses"?
Only Stanford. Home of brainiacs, football behemoths and Oregon-killers.
Now the Cardinal is right back in the hunt for a BCS berth, and an outside contender for the national championship game, despite its loss in Utah earlier this season.
Stanford. Home of Nobel laureates, recurring BCS bids. And nerd glasses (which were probably a reference to their former teammate Jonathan Martin's situation in Miami, and accusations that he and other Cardinal products are "soft").
"It's November and we talked as a team that it's time to play our best football," Stanford coach David Shaw said after it was over.
"No one has seen our best football, and that's including us. And tonight was about three-and-three-quarters quarters of it."
Shaw's complaint, of course, was about the late blocked field goal that was returned for Oregon's second touchdown, and the ensuing onside kick that the Ducks recovered and turned into another TD, to suddenly make it a one-score game.
But Stanford's original lead (26-0 at its largest) was big enough that the Cardinal sealed the game by recovering the next onside kick and winding down the clock.
That was a messy way to end this classic effort, but it still was something that nobody else in the nation can do.
And now Stanford has defeated Oregon in back-to-back seasons, including last year's 17-14 overtime victory in Eugene.
In fact, Oregon is 20-0 against anybody not named Stanford since the start of last season, with every one of those victories coming by at least 11 points and usually a lot, lot, lot more.
And Oregon is 0-2 against Stanford in that same period.
Also, in those 20 non-Stanford games over the last two seasons, Oregon's lowest scoring total is 35.
Oregon's combined point total against Stanford in these two seasons: 34.
How could Shaw compare this game to last season's victory in Eugene?
"I would say this was a more complete performance," Shaw said. "I thought last year we played great -- Zach Ertz had a phenomenal game, Stepfan Taylor, some individual performances.
"But gosh, we missed so many opportunities that last game. ... Tonight I thought we took advantage of our opportunities."
This one was clinical, it was resoundingly physical and it was complete.
From the defensive swarming of Mariota and the other Oregon stars to Tyler Gaffney's 157 yards on a school-record 45 carries and Kevin Hogan's confident QB play, Stanford was in total control of this game from the first few minutes.
That's when Oregon failed on an early fourth-and-goal try, which gave the ball over to Stanford, who then went 96 yards in 12 plays in almost 6 minutes of action, and finished with a Gaffney score for a 7-0 lead.
By the way, when Stanford beat Oregon last year in Eugene, the Cardinal also stopped the Ducks early on fourth down inside the 10, and also went 90-plus yards from there for the game's first score.
This year, Stanford kept building its wall around Oregon, kept shoving Mariota around, knocking the ball from his hands, and going on long drives.
To end the first half, Stanford recovered a De'Anthony Thomas fumble at the Cardinal 2-yard line and then went 96 yards again.
That drive went 20 plays, drained the final 8:26 of the second quarter, and concluded with a short field goal, for a 17-0 halftime lead.
Just those two 96-yard drives totaled 192 yards, 32 plays and 13:25 in elapsed time.
Those two drives, all those open-field tackles and everything put together ... that's why Stanford owns Oregon right now, why the Cardinal stands alone, and why Stanford should absolutely be proud of all of that.