Grinding to glory: A gritty Love and efficient Costello lead the Cardinal to a narrow Big Game victory

November 21, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 21, 2017

A valiant effort from an injured Bryce Love and an efficient performance by K.J. Costello led Stanford’s football team to a 17-14 victory over Cal in the 120th Big Game on Saturday evening. The win was the eighth straight for the Cardinal over its traditional archrival, the longest streak by either team since they first met on the gridiron in San Francisco back in the spring of 1892.

Stanford moved to 8-3 overall and 7-2 in the Pac-12, while the Golden Bears dropped to 5-6 and 2-6. But the game was a close thing, despite the disparities in the team’s records.

Both offenses were 6 of 12 on third down, and both generated 5.9 yards per offensive play. While the host squad outgained the Bears on the ground, 193 yards to 155, the dueling quarterbacks were nearly even: Cal’s Ross Bowers threw for 182 yards, while Costello topped him by three yards. (Incidentally, both players are sophomores, and both wear No. 3.)

The Cardinal took a 3-0 lead on Jet Toner’s 42-yard field goal on the first series of the game, which was enabled by a 33-yard throw from Costello to junior wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The Bears answered with a 44-yarder by Matt Anderson on their first possession.

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Cheeps and Chirps: Special Boulder edition!

November 17, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 17, 2017

Forget about catching up on past tweets; instead, here’s a Twitter photo and video essay chronicling my recent visit to Boulder, Colo.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 7-3 Stanford

November 16, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 16, 2017

Being somewhat superstitious, and definitely a creature of habit, when Stanford hosted the Washington Huskies last Friday night, I went to watch the game at the same venue where I saw the Cardinal’s tenuous 15-14 road win over Oregon State in October. This is also the same place where I watched Stanford’s bruising 30-28 win at WSU in 2015 and the team’s amazing 26-20 home upset of second-ranked Oregon in 2013, so I guess it’s got a good pedigree.

• The Bad 

It really isn’t easy to find things to criticize in an upset of a top-10 team. But fine, since you asked…

As noted yesterday, after Washington narrowed the score to 30-22 late in the fourth quarter, the Cardinal had an opportunity to put the game away with just a field goal. Instead, the offense faltered following Bryce Love’s final rush of the game, which went for 35 yards and benefited from a 15-yard facemask penalty on the defense.

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Hobbled Love and inspired defense carry Cardinal to a 30-22 upset victory over Washington

November 15, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 15, 2017

Tailback Bryce Love ran for 166 yards and three touchdowns Friday evening to lead the Stanford football team to a 30-22 victory over Washington.

The Cardinal moved to 7-3 overall and 6-2 in the Pac-12 while handing the 8-2 Huskies only their second loss, both in conference road games. The upset kept Stanford alive in the conference’s North Division championship race but likely ended the league’s hopes of earning one of the four berths in the College Football Playoff.

Love’s performance came on a weekend when other Heisman Trophy front-runners faltered: Penn State’s Saquon Barkley managed 80 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns in a home win over 4-6 Rutgers, while Notre Dame’s Josh Adams compiled just 40 yards in a 41-8 road loss at Miami. More impressively, Love recorded his yardage against the nation’s leader in total defense (240.9 yards per game). The Huskies defense, which had allowed only three rushing touchdowns through its first nine game, was also second in the nation in scoring defense (11.1 ppg) and sixth in rushing defense (91.1 ypg).

The most striking thing about Love’s evening, however, may have been that he enjoyed his stellar performance while still suffering from the tweaked ankle that he injured against Oregon.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 6-3 Stanford

November 10, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 10, 2017

Gosh… Last weekend’s outing in Pullman sure was wretched for Stanford fans, wasn’t it?

I happened to be in Colorado for an event involving family (and religion!), and I happened to have Saturday afternoon free to watch the Cardinal game. I walked to a craft brewery that shares a parking lot with the hotel where I was staying, ordered a cider — my go-to alcoholic beverage — and planted myself in front of a television screen that happened to be displaying Fox’s broadcast from Washington State.

Unfortunately, it was only doing so because the earlier game on Fox, Penn State at Michigan State, was in a weather delay. When that contest resumed, Stanford-WSU was bumped to the Fox Business Channel. I had to consult with the bartenders to locate the new channel number, which they were kind enough to put on the monitor I was watching.

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Luke Falk and WSU handle struggling Stanford offense, 24-21, on a snowy Saturday

November 9, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 9, 2017

An offensively challenged Stanford lost at Washington State on Saturday, falling 24-21 to the Cougars in the Cardinal’s first snow game since 1936.

The defeat left the Cardinal with a 6-3 overall record and a 5-2 mark in the Pac-12 Conference. All of Stanford’s losses have come in true road games, in which the team has averaged 20 points. The squad, which scores 47 points per game in the friendly confines of Stanford Stadium, will finish the regular season with a trio of home contests.

In Pullman last weekend, the Cardinal mustered just 198 yards from scrimmage, converted only three of 12 third downs, and held the ball for less than 27 minutes. Stanford obviously won’t get anywhere close to its nominal home scoring quantity if it continues to perform like that.

The Cardinal, which started sophomore K.J. Costello at quarterback in lieu of faltering senior Keller Chryst, twice scored on 52-yard plays. The first of those came at the start of a Cardinal possession, 45 seconds into the second quarter of a scoreless game. Superstar junior running back Bryce Love took a handoff, sprinted through a gaping hole on the left side of the line and broke out of a tackle attempt by safety Jalen Thompson to sprint for a 52-yard touchdown.

But the Cardinal defense immediately gave back the points, as senior Cougars passer Luke Falk orchestrated a nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive that included just two runs. The touchdown came on a 12-yard reception by wideout Tavares Martin Jr.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 6-2 Stanford

November 3, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 3, 2017

In the runup to Stanford’s Thursday-night game against Oregon State, my Twitter feed was seemingly full of articles profiling Bryce Love and praising the Cardinal offensive line. Moreover, veteran San Jose Mercury News college sports writer Jon Wilner wrote, in assessing the Beavers shortly before the game:

If Bryce Love doesn’t play, or is limited, and if Stanford’s passing game sputters, and if the defense is wobbly, and if the sense of urgency is lacking … the Cardinal will only win by three touchdowns.

In other words, the universe was seemingly setting Stanford up for a major jinx in its road tilt against the worst team in the conference.

Interestingly, I viewed this contest in the same establishment near the New York-New Jersey line where, almost exactly two years previously, I’d watched Stanford stage a nationally televised come-from-behind weeknight win in the Pacific Northwest — the Cardinal’s harrowing 30-28 victory at Washington State on Friday, Oct. 31.

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Stanford squeaks past Oregon State, 15-14, in low-wattage Thursday night game

October 31, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 31, 2017

The Stanford football squad overcame plentiful mistakes by its offense, defense and coaching staff to secure a 15-14 victory in a nationally televised game at Oregon State on Oct. 26.

Stanford, now 6-2 overall and 5-1 in the Pac-12, likely would have lost if not for a last-minute touchdown drive. With superstar tailback Bryce Love sidelined after tweaking his ankle against Oregon, the No. 20–ranked Cardinal managed just 81 rushing yards and converted only five of 16 third downs against a 1-7 Beavers team that respectively ranks 12th and 11th in the league in those categories.

The first quarter was scoreless thanks to a sequence of punts and a missed 34-yard field goal attempt by Stanford sophomore kicker Jet Toner. The Cardinal offense began to find a rhythm late in the period as quarterback Keller Chryst completed five passes, including a 25-yarder to junior wideout J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Toner capped the drive with a 40-yard kick to give the Cardinal a 3-0 lead early in the second period. Read the rest of this entry »


How I became a pinhead

October 24, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 24, 2017

A friend got me interested in pinball. Back in 2014 or 2015, I think, he bought a World Cup Soccer table. I occasionally noodled around with it when visiting his house.

In 2016, my buddy invited me to play in a couple of monthly tournaments at a downtown Raleigh bar/restaurant/arcade called Level Up. For a while, I resisted his blandishments, but eventually I decided to give competitive pinball play a try.

My first tournament was in March 2016; I finished in a three-way tied for last place in a 19-person field. I’ve played every other month or so since then, although I’ve never placed better than a two-way tie for seventh out of 15 participants.

I might have remained an extremely casual pinball player but for a few things. One was a complicated chain of events that began with the extended illness of a relative, which prompted me to spend a bunch of time in Ye Olde Family Home up north at the beginning of this year.

I had a few days in mid-January to myself. I wanted to participate in the annual charity Scrabble tournament in Durham, but I didn’t want to do a 1,000-mile road trip over the course of four days or so. I wound up driving to North Carolina and booking a pair of flights to take me up north and back down to Cackalacky.

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Everything you (n)ever wanted to know about my sock-wearing habits

October 22, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 22, 2017

About six or sevens years ago, I was sitting in West End Wine Bar on Main Street in Durham with a couple of friends when, for some reason, the subject of my wardrobe came up. I think that I was wearing a nice long-sleeve buttoned shirt, jeans and sneakers — a very typical outfit for me when the weather is cool or when I’m doing something social in the evening.

My outfit was fine… for the most part. However, my friends’ critical eyes were drawn to my socks.

As was my wont at the time, I was wearing white crew socks. This was, my friends told me, a no-no. Instead, they encouraged me to start wearing dark-colored socks.

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