Stanford 20, Oregon State 12: TV Breakdown

Trent Murphy's massive game led the way

The Stanford defense has raised its level of play to epic levels the last two times it has taken the field in the state of Oregon, and the Cardinal needed every bit of that effort to stave off Oregon State Saturday because of their frustratingly incoherent offensive performance. Here's the wrap featuring Trent Murphy and AJ Tarpley.

Remember the one-word slogan that summarized the 2010 San Francisco Giants world championship season? Well, David Shaw and his club is giving us ample reasons to dust off the 'T' word.

Stanford 20, Oregon State 12. Just another example of a heartrending, defensively heroic, offensively mind-numbing, way-closer-than-it-should-have-been form of Torture.

But, boy, did the Farm Boys flex their muscles.

The Cardinal dominated both lines of scrimmage at an almost obscene level, yet they still had to lean on their spectacular defense to sweat out the Beavers' last gasp with under five seconds remaining. There was a palpable feeling of relief mixed with anger coming from Stanford offensive players in the locker room after a night during which Kevin Hogan struggled to an 8-for-18, 88-yard performance. Tyler Gaffney, though he gashed Oregon State's defense to the tune of 6.6 yards per carry, touched the ball only 22 times in support a week after racking up 36 carries.

Stanford again wandered away from their bruising offensive identity, but their rugged, veteran defense simply would not be denied victory. Their own offense left them out to dry on the field for over 38 minutes, but they still held the Beavers' high-powered attack to 3.6 yards per play. The crew sacked quarterback Sean Mannion eight times after he'd only been dropped only nine times all season entering the contest.

"It was a Rocky Balboa fight," linebacker Trent Murphy told me after.

It was that and more. It was a gritty-yet-ugly road win for Stanford at a time when they absolutely needed to prevail. This was about attaining inside-track positioning to qualify for a fourth consecutive BCS bowl game. That much has now been accomplished, and Oregon is coming to town for a Top 5 showdown next.

David Lombardi is the Stanford Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.

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