So, we moved to this old farmhouse outside Brasstown, NC several weeks ago: a sunny southern-sloped acre garden-farm, something we‘ve been seeking for decades. We brought with us the same phone/internet company, Frontier (more about them later), and Becky decided to get Dish Network, under no obligation whatsoever (more about this later). Apparently we were the first people in history to get out of a Dish Network contract without paying hundreds of dollars, but Becky is a quite sharp businesswoman, who has only sharpened with age, and could talk a grasshopper out of his hind legs with her calm, studied style of phone-speak (I, on the other hand, am never allowed to discuss anything with anyone on the phone, due to my near-complete phonal ineptitude). This TV loss is why I had to drive into the town of Murphy for the Stanford-Oregon football game this last Thursday evening.
Pulling up to the Coaches Sports Bar, popping the top of my favorite beverage, I sat looking in through the window at a quite spacious, inviting Big Screen, previewing the evening’s premier game. Last year, David Shaw’s Stanford had been the only team to beat then #1 Oregon (in overtime), and this year, (ranked at #6) the Cardinal poised as the only possible victor over the #2 Ducks. Turns out Stanford did an incredible job controlling the line of scrimmage, keeping the ball for 42 ½ minutes, letting the Ducks offense on the field for only 17 ½ minutes. After two touchdowns and four field goals, early in the fourth quarter, the score was 26-0, and the awesome Duck offense was literally becoming quite psychotic on the sidelines, slapping their helmets against their heads, trying to deal with the impending loss of their perfect season. Stanford’s Tyler Gaffney ran the ball 47 times, a school record, making 3-6 yards on each run. The Stanford game was more like Rugby than football (a hundred years ago, two of the Stanford-Cal Big Games were Rugby), where the offensive line formed a scrum, surrounding the guy with the ball, and pushing him forward. Fate also favored the Cardinal, with a couple big penalties going their way. Then Shayne Skov, the outspoken, Mohawk-topped defensive back, stripped a Duck receiver on the 3 yard line, and reached under his falling body to gain control of the ball before the bird hit the ground.
The awesome Duck offense knows no such thing as a huddle, and works with a tremendous speed, when given the opportunity. A quick touchdown made it 26-6. Then a blocked field goal was returned for a TD: 26-13. An onside kick recovered led to a score of 26-20. With two minutes left, Stanford was able to control the next onside kick, and three Tyler Gaffney running plays later, the game was over.
The Oregon offense is still quite impressively aggressive, though their energy appears to be drug-induced: they speedily and surely overpower and wear teams down. Stanford’s short-run offense, on the other hand, is so predictably boring, ESPN again must have lost half their East Coast audience before Midnight.