Sept. 27, 1997: Stanford 58, Oregon 49
When Stanford played Russian winter to the Ducks' blitzkrieg last November, 11 college football teams averaged at least 40 points per game. Sixteen years ago, that club had only three teams: Nebraska, UCLA and Washington State.
In an era in which Tom Osbourne oversaw the country's most feared offense, it took a lot more than sheer talent to generate a basketball-like final score. All the ingredients had to come together.
Equally capable but fatally flawed, Stanford and Oregon had exactly what it took to compile what remains the highest-scoring game in Stanford Stadium history:
Pinpoint passing, dynamic wide receiver play, and, of course, bad coaching and dreadful, back-pedaling pass defense.
Chad Hutchinson totaled 340 passing yards and four touchdown throws under portable lights, by far career highs for his two inconsistent years starting under center. Oregon, utilizing both lefty Jason Maas and future NFL bust Akili Smith, tallied 530 yards of total offense. Maas' five touchdown passes put him one shy of the school record set by Danny O'Neil in Palo Alto three years earlier, a game that all but sent Bill Walsh into retirement.
Pat Johnson's eight-catch, 179-yard, two-touchdown night for Oregon came alongside another first-rate performance for Troy Walters (13 grabs, 169 yards, two scores). The Cardinal's 578 yards of total offense were the most for a Stanford edition since a 1981 shootout with Arizona State.
At the time, Stanford's first Pac-10 win of 1997 was the highest-scoring regulation game in conference history. Stanford defensive coordinator Bill Harris would be earning paychecks elsewhere by next fall.
"This was a fun game," said Hutchinson, whose No. 20 Cardinal careened from a 4-1 start to a 5-6 thud. "Knowing you're going to score every time you get the ball is fun."
Four of the teams' nine first-half touchdown drives took 41 seconds or fewer. An 80-yard bomb to Damon Dunn and a 31-yard strike to Walters had the Cardinal sitting on a 35-14 lead with 4:02 to play until the half. Oregon, by virtue of an onside kick and a generous Stanford secondary, pulled within 35-28 by the break.
Only in the closing seconds, when Kailee Wong drilled Maas in the end zone for a safety, could Stanford exhale.
Sept. 28, 1991: Stanford 28, Colorado 21
You're 0-2, already eliminated from the Rose Bowl race. Your senior quarterback hasn't thrown a touchdown pass. In front of rapidly shrinking fan base, you've lost four of your last six home games. Here come the defending national champions, ready to compound the misery of what was supposed to be a breakthrough season.
Happy 100th birthday, Stanford!
Amid the pomp of The Farm's centennial celebration came one of the signature games of the Denny Green era, a thorough beatdown of the Buffaloes. Tommy Vardell fought off dehydration to rush for 114 yards, score twice and haul in 94 yards receiving.
"I would call this a down payment," Green told reporters. "We've got a long way to go, but it's a start."
With a throwback approach, Stanford gave over 57,000 supporters a glimpse of the future. Under sunny skies, Touchdown Tommy scored twice in the fourth quarter to turn a deadlock into a 28-14 advantage. Plus, he all but iced the game during a 10-play, clock-killing drive. Vardell combined with Glyn Milburn (109 yards, nine carries, one score) and J.J. Lasley (one rushing touchdown) to form an attack Cardinal fans have grown accustomed to recently.
"I was surprised how many seams there were," Vardell said of the Card's final possession. "We just ran the same play over and over again."
After throwing an early pick-six, Jason Palumbis threw for over 200 passing yards, including a key 16-yard toss to Chris Walsh to convert a fourth down in the third quarter, setting up Lasley's tying score. But Credit Willie Shaw's defense for stuffing the Buffs' option attack. Colorado converted just 3 of 15 third downs as Stanford scored a measure of revenge for a heartbreaking outcome a year earlier in Boulder.
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