It is easy to forget there was a serious debate over the best pro prospect at quarterback in the Pac-12, a legitimate three-man race, when the 2013 college football season started.
Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota was arguably at the back of the pack because of concerns over how he might fare without Chip Kelly. Brett Hundley at UCLA had the personality and physical attributes associated with a franchise signal-caller.
And then there was Stanford's Kevin Hogan, who went from a complete afterthought in the race to succeed Andrew Luck to an occasional chance-of-pace runner at midseason to surprise starter with wins at UO, in the Pac-12 championship game and Rose Bowl to his credit last season. With his Luck-like skill set -- poise, accuracy, arm strength and mobility -- Hogan was being regarded as the one with the biggest upside.
Now, Hogan is something of an afterthought again after backsliding during the last four games, as head coach David Shaw acknowledged this week on the College Football 24/7 Podcast.
"Started off doing well and then got hot for about two or three weeks, was playing great. The last few weeks, he has played okay. Still a young quarterback, sometimes still thinking too much, but he has still won us games," Shaw said.
Hogan was shockingly erratic in the 20-12 win at Oregon State, going 8-of-18 passing for 88 yards and missing plays at all levels, but most troubling on shots down the field. The performance had fans and commentators pleading for more carries for running back Tyler Gaffney, who shredded the Beavers for 6.6 yards per carry.
It capped a mediocre four-game stretch, where Hogan was 53 of 90 for 661 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. Hogan (6-foot-4, 228 pounds) was also contained as a runner, an aspect of his game that gave the Ducks real trouble in last season's 17-14 overtime shocker.
Hogan rushed for 37 yards and one touchdown, while extending several pass plays with his mobility (25 of 36 for 211 yards, one touchdown and one interception).
"It's like a dagger in the heart when you have everything covered, have everything stopped, and then the quarterback scrambles," UO defensive coordinator Nick Alliotti said earlier this week.
Hogan will have to be accurate and in control, especially on third down to extend drives and keep Mariota off the field. Hogan will have to convert on the handful of big-play opportunities a stout UO secondary will concede. Hogan will, in short, have to play the best game of his college career to win, even if it doesn't reflect in his final statistics.
"In this game, Kevin Hogan has to take his game to the next level for Stanford to stay in it. They are going to have to find a way to manufacture points," NFL Media analyst Bucky Brooks said on the College Football 24/7 Podcast.
Do that and Hogan can play his way back into the Pac-12 conversation.