STANFORD -- It wasn't fancy. Just one hole after another Thursday night thanks to some behemoths who rarely make headlines.

Sixth-ranked Stanford's magic formula to upend No. 2 Oregon for the second consecutive year was all about being tough.

The defense showed it in a 26-20 Pac-12 victory that keeps Stanford's Rose Bowl hopes alive.

So did the Cardinal's offensive line that had struggled 10 days earlier at Oregon State.

Coach David Shaw expressed displeasure with the previous performance. But he could not have been happier with how the group responded in the conference showdown.

"We let our guys tee off in the running game and did a good job," Shaw said.

Senior guard David Yankey, for one, loved being unleashed on the big stage.

"I love grinding," he said, offering a half-moon grin.

The 6-foot-5, 313-pound lineman talked about a dominating performance that helped Stanford (8-1, 6-1, Pac-12) gain 274 yards rushing.

Yankey's gang pushed the Ducks back so many times "they don't want to play anymore," he said.

The superb performance allowed running back Tyler Gaffney to gain 157 yards on a school-record 45 carries. Gaffney had only one minus yard, thanks to his fab five.

"They're moving guys back yards and yards," he said. "This is for them."

"Them" includes Andrus Peat, Cameron Fleming, Khalil Wilkes, Kevin Danser, Yankey and those who spell the starters.


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Once Stanford took a commanding 26-0 lead into the fourth quarter, Shaw called his line over.

"We're not going to pass anymore," he told them.

Yankey loved that idea. He could tell the Oregon defensive line was spent. He was smelling blood.

"You can feel it," Yankey said.

The linemen spent the bye week re-dedicating themselves to blocking technique after facing undersized Oregon State. Shaw said coaches instructed the blockers to get lower and not allow rushers to get underneath them.

"We're constantly playing lower, playing smarter," Shaw added. "Thought pass"'pro was phenomenal tonight."

Indeed, the line's pass protection stood up against the Ducks (8-1, 5-1). Quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 7 of 13 passes for 103 yards. He had sufficient time in the pocket to find receivers or break away for 58 yards rushing.

And equally important: Oregon couldn't get to Hogan for a sack.

Yankey didn't say it. But it was easy to tell the game offered redemption for the linemen after the Oregon State game.

"We left with a bad taste in our mouths," he said.

It tasted a lot different Thursday against a defensive front Yankey described as the best Stanford has seen this season.

It's the imagery Stanford likes to showcase as a power football program.

"When you walk into our new facility, the players only entrance, to the left is the offensive line, to the right is the picture of the defensive line," Shaw said. "That is what football is about."

That is what it came down to against the mighty Ducks.

"You control the line of scrimmage, and you have a chance to win" Shaw said. .

Contact Elliott Almond at 408-920-5865. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/elliottalmond.