Stanford defense quiets Sean Mannion, Oregon State

Stanford survived a goal-line stand to defeat Oregon State, 20-12, on Saturday to set up what might be the most important and most anticipated Pac-12 game in a decade.

The question now: Which Stanford will show up against Oregon on Nov. 7?

There was the good Stanford, relying on its offensive line to open up gaping holes for running back Tyler Gaffney (22 carries for 145 yards and three touchdowns) and let its defense stifle the Beavers' explosive passing offense.

The Cardinal sacked OSU quarterback Sean Mannion eight times and had plenty more hurries and hits. Outside linebacker Trent Murphy was all but unblockable, with 2.5 sacks.

Mannion threw for 271 passing yards -- his lowest output this season by nearly 100 yards -- and one touchdown but needed 41 completions and 57 attempts to do so. Wide receiver Brandin Cooks had nine receptions for 80 yards and caught his 13th touchdown of the season but was nearly shut out in the first half.

There was also the bad Stanford, beset by fits of ineptitude from its offensive brain trust. Quarterback Kevin Hogan was clearly off his game, going 8 of 18 for 88 yards, but still threw the ball at critical moments, even as Gaffney was picking up huge chunks of yards every time he ran the ball.

Against the Ducks, those sorts of mental mistakes could be the difference between being in the game with a chance to win and being out of the game facing a three- or four-touchdown deficit in a matter of minutes.

There is also the matter of the health of defensive end Ben Gardner, who had to exit the game because of a lingering arm injury to deplete an already-thin line.

For now, however, Stanford can celebrate and table those concerns for another day.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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