We've all seen the cries that Stanford lost the momentum and the game due to one bad call. Not so much. I'll attempt to do a quick 'n' dirty analysis. The reality? Taking away "the bad calls" on both sides would have made things much, much worse for the Tree.
1) First UO drive, Thomas taking them down the field like shit through a goose. UO gets (if you can believe this) CALLED FOR 12 MEN IN THE HUDDLE. Now, how many times has Oregon huddled this year, you might ask? ONCE. Momentum killed, Ducks settle for a FG.
2) Stanford: Score, score, score. 21-3. Fine. Whatever
3) Oregon: Score, score
4) Furd: Score
5) Ducks: Score
6) Furd: Punt
7) Ducks: Punt
8) Furd: Punt
9) Refs confirm an obvious one-hopper interception of Thomas. Stanford had been pretty powerless to stop the Ducks, but the refs did it instead.
10) Furd: FG.
So the score could have been 28-28 or 35-28 Oregon. Given what happens in the second half, when 'furd panics and gets pass-happy, the final could have been much worse. But this just sets up the second half, and it's not hard to see that that "one bad call" was more or less irrelevant.
Part II: The Return of the Second Half:
I'm going to go slightly more in-depth here, since the (false) claim is that the Call that Lost the Game for the Tree was on their opening drive.
1) Stanford drives a bit. They've already started giving up on their running game. Harbaugh knows he needs points. The Ducks had scored 21 in a few short minutes in the 2nd quarter and had forced 2 punts by his team. Blah blah blah "offensive pass interference." Well...a no-call would have been correct IF IT HAD BEEN INCOMPLETE. But Boyette was...lightly pushed. Technically the correct call.
But the problem here is how perception meets reality: Many say 'furd "would have scored" a touchdown or "at least gotten the FG." Well, here's Stanfords last 9 possessions of the game, going back to the 2nd quarter: Punt, Punt, FG, Punt, Fumble, INT, Punt, Downs, INT. Anything there that hints at the Tree having much success? Yeah, me too. And, as OSU learned in CW09, you don't kick FGs against the Ducks and expect to win (ergo the 4th-down inc. to James R. on their last possession). Result: Punt.
2) Oregon: TD
3)Stanford: Here's a REAL game changer, for a couple of reasons. Luck has them moving fairly well. Quick out to Owusu. He's jacked up and loses the ball. Returned to the 3. LMJ scores on the next play. Owusu never returns. That will bite them in the @ss on the very next possession, as we will see.
4) Oregon tries to bleed a little time off and run up the middle. TO on downs. Ooops. CK goes to adjust the carburetor while on the other sideline, trouble is brewing.
5) Harbaugh is a) a little over-competitive and b) a little green still. He dials up the blockbusting game-changer: The deep pass down the middle.
Here's the problem: Owusu is their deep threat. Their only receiver with real speed and length. And he's stumbling around on the sidelines wondering where those bells are coming from. His replacement? Beefy. Slow (relative to what he's up against). A real Stanford player. Probably has a 160 IQ, but has a 4.8 40. Covering him? Cliff Harris. One of the fastest DB's in the college game. Super-fast, super-quick, super-agile. The best cover corner on the team and one of the best in the Pac-10, if not the country. You see where this is going.
Luck cocks that cannon he's got strapped to his torso and unloads. Harris does handstands, loop-the-loops, cartwheels, and what-have-you and STILL runs by the receiver, then comes back, takes a water break, then casually jumps and catches the ball while yawning and checking his text messages.
6) Ducks: TD
7) Furd: Luck finally runs out. Nice drive. Luck doesn't even see the snap and it bounces into the backfield, where he recovers it. Next play? Batted down on 4th and goal.
8) Ducks: After the tune-up, the offense gets going on all cylinders again. TD.
9) Furd: Not much to see here. At this point everyone watching this game knows Stanford needs 7 if they have even the slightest hope of getting back in the game. The running game has been almost entirely abandoned except for 1 nice but meaningless designed run by Luck. Quick out after quick out is batted down. Luck is sacked on 3rd down. Punt.
10) Ducks: They try to bleed of the clock, but don't really know how. Punt.
11) Furd. Nice drive. They get down inside the 10. Luck tosses one into the corner. Harris finishes his nachos, washes 'em down with a coke, hits the bathroom, gets his left ankle re-taped, calls his mom, then snatches the ball away from the 'furd receiver. Game over. Except:
12) Oregon tries this ball control thing again. Problem is, at this point they can't NOT score. The Mike almost casually strolls up to get the ball from Thomas, sees the Cardinal-Red Sea part right in front of him, and accelerates so fast that Brent Musburger says "end zone" before James has even cleared the secondary.
13) Furd: Kickoff. A couple of plays. Time runs out.
"One bad call changed the whole game." Sheeeeyeah. Not so much.