STANFORD (CBS / AP) — The chants of “BCS! BCS! BCS!” echoed out of the Stanford locker room. After making an emphatic final statement to be included in the Bowl Championship series, the Cardinal now can only wait and watch if their wish will be fulfilled.
Andrew Luck threw four touchdown passes to set a single-season school record and No. 7 Stanford forced five turnovers in its third shutout of the season, beating Oregon State 38-0 Saturday night.
“I think we’re the best one-loss team in the country,” linebacker Chase Thomas said. “Our offense is really hard to stop right now, they’re so reliable, and our defense has made so many strides from last year. I don’t see why we shouldn’t get to a BCS game.”
After setting a school record for wins, Stanford (11-1, 8-1 Pac-10) is hoping for an at-large berth in the BCS with No. 1 Oregon having already wrapped up the Pac-10’s automatic berth.
The weekend got off to a good start for the Cardinal before this game even kicked off. With Boise State losing Friday night and LSU falling to Arkansas earlier Saturday, Stanford has a chance to move up from sixth to fourth in the BCS standings – guaranteeing a berth in one of the high-profile bowls.
While TCU has the inside track for the Rose Bowl, Stanford would be an option for the Fiesta, Orange or Sugar bowls with the Fiesta or Orange being the most likely destinations.
If the Cardinal don’t finish in the top four, they could end up in the Alamo Bowl because they lack the strong following bowls look for as they try to sell out their stadiums. That was evident in the large number of empty seats for a rainy regular-season finale with the students on break for the Thanksgiving holiday. Stanford has sold out its 50,000-seat stadium just once all season against USC, drawing 38,775 Saturday.
“I feel like we’re an exciting team to watch,” said receiver Doug Baldwin, who caught two TD passes. “I’m on the sidelines watching these guys on defense. I don’t see what part of the country wouldn’t want to see Stanford football come into their town to play.”
The Beavers (5-6, 4-4) need to beat the Ducks at home next Saturday to make it to a bowl game for a school-record fifth consecutive season. Ryan Katz threw three interceptions and lost a fumble as Oregon State failed in its first attempt to become bowl eligible and was shut out for the first time in eight years.
“We’re really disappointed the way this game went,” coach Mike Riley said. “Our only deal left for this team is to do everything we can to prepare for that game next week and win it.”
This could be the final home game for Luck and coach Jim Harbaugh. Luck could enter the NFL draft where he would be a high pick and Harbaugh could have offers from higher-profile colleges or the NFL.
If this was the end of an era, Luck made it another memorable one. He broke the Stanford record of 27 TD passes in a season held by John Elway and Steve Stenstrom when he connected with Tyler Gaffney on a 52-yard scoring strike on the opening play of the fourth quarter. Luck finished 21 for 30 for 305 yards.
“Any time you get to be mentioned in the same sentence as John Elway it’s an honor,” Luck said. “It’s also a testament to the wideouts, the o-line, the running backs and the tight ends for what a great job they’ve done all year.”
Stepfan Taylor ran for 115 yards, scoring on a 62-yard burst up the middle midway through the third quarter to make it 31-0. That put him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season – just the sixth Stanford back to reach that total.
The defense did the rest, forcing the turnovers and holding Jacquizz Rodgers to 76 yards rushing in Stanford’s third shutout of the season.
“Just a thorough, thorough performance by our players,” Harbaugh said.
Luck picked up where he left off in the Big Game last week when he led the Cardinal to scores on all eight drives he played against California. Luck completed all six passes on the opening drive, capped by a 21-yard scoring strike to Zach Ertz.
Oregon State drove into Cardinal territory on its first drive and was poised to go for it on fourth-and-1 from the 34. But Riley decided to punt after a false start and Luck drove Stanford 91 yards, capped by a 42-yard pass to Baldwin, for his ninth straight drive that ended in a TD.
The Beavers finally stopped Stanford on the next drive thanks to a sack by Stephen Paea. But Stanford added a 20-yard field goal by Nate Whitaker and a 29-yard TD pass to Baldwin that made it 24-0 at halftime.
“They did their thing and we didn’t,” Paea said. “They outplayed us. There are no excuses for this game. Stanford played great.”
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