Posts Tagged ‘NCAA football’

Cheeps and Chirps for Dec. 31, 2020: Current events, sports, culture and humor edition

December 31, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 31, 2020

The pandemic, Donald Trump’s disgusting attempt to overturn election results and other political events weren’t the only things going on in December 2020, even if it sometimes felt like it. Here are the best of the rest from the final month in a year that seemed to last an eternity. Let’s hope that 2021 brings far, far better things than we saw during this past trip around the sun!

Terrorism in Nashville

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-2 Stanford

December 24, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 24, 2020

2020 saw the Stanford football team play the fewest number of games since the war interregnum of 1943–45.

Before that, the shortest campaign was a four-game unofficial schedule that was played in 1918, as the world was a few months into an infamous global pandemic.

Before that, the shortest season was a one-game campaign in 1917.

Before that, Stanford played rugby from 1906 through 1916, with each season comprising at least eight games.

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Stanford overcomes a major second-half surge by UCLA to secure a heart-stopping 48-47 double-overtime win

December 23, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 23, 2020

Stanford wrapped its 2020 campaign with a 48-47 double overtime win at UCLA in a game as wild as anything this most unusual year has had to offer.

After UCLA scored 31 straight points to take a 34-20 lead with 5:39 in the fourth quarter, Stanford tied the game and put up touchdowns in both overtime periods. The contest was ultimately decided when the defense stopped Bruins running back Brittain Brown from converting a two-point try.

Head coach David Shaw’s club was only able to pull out the win because quarterback Davis Mills recovered from three interceptions to erase a big deficit. But Mills didn’t have a chance at making the game-tying score until defensive tackle Dalyn Wade-Perry recovered an improbable Bruins fumble late in regulation.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 3-2 Stanford

December 15, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 15, 2020

Fun fact: Stanford’s offense has had the ball for an average of 32 minutes and 18 seconds per game. The only Pac-12 team with a better time of possession is Utah at 33:54.

• The Bad

On Dec. 5, the Cardinal defense had by far its best effort of 2020 against opposing rushers, limiting Washington to 117 yards on the ground. Unfortunately, the front seven was once again its typical porous self in Corvallis. Oregon State’s 237 rushing yards were the second most by an opponent this year, just behind Cal’s 241 yards.

Have I mentioned that Stanford is surrendering an average of 208.2 rushing yards per game, better only than Pac-12 bottom feeder Arizona’s 270.6? Or that Cardinal opponents are averaging 5.4 yards per carry, which is exceeded in conference only by — again — the Arizona Wildcats?

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Uneven Stanford does just enough to edge the Beavers in a 27-24 road win

December 14, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 14, 2020

Quarterback Davis Mills scored three touchdowns and inside linebacker Curtis Robinson recovered a last-minute fumble to seal a 27-24 Stanford football victory at Oregon State on Saturday evening.

Mills threw one touchdown and ran for a career-high two. He also completed 21 of 29 pass attempts for 292 yards as Stanford improved its record to 3-2, all in conference play. Mills’s favorite target, junior wide receiver Simi Fehoko, tied a career high with six catches for 110 yards, passing the century mark for the first time. Sophomore running back Austin Jones racked up 126 yards on 22 rushes, good for 5.7 yards per carry, and redshirt senior Jet Toner nailed two kicks, including the go-ahead field goal with 1:48 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Redshirt sophomore quarterback Chance Nolan, a junior college transfer, completed 17 of 30 throws for 221 yards with three touchdowns in his second career start for the Beavers, now 2-4. Jermar Jefferson, the conference’s second-leading rusher, gained 80 yards on 18 carries, slightly more than half the 151 he was averaging before the game. But Nolan tacked on 50 yards on eight carries and three other Beavers ran for at least 32 yards. In all, Oregon State rushed 39 times for 237 yards, or 6.1 ypc, and the hosts outgained Stanford, 458 total yards to 408.

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

December 7, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 7, 2020

Fun fact: Stanford head coach David Shaw now has a 7-3 record against the Washington Huskies. The three losses have come in Seattle.

• The Bad

Stanford did most of its damage against the Dawgs over the course of the opening half. The Cardinal scored touchdowns on its first three possessions and closed out the second quarter with a field goal on its final drive to claim a 24-3 lead.

To that point, the Huskies offense had accumulated three points on 126 total yards while converting half of their six third-down tries.

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Don’t call it a comeback: Scrappy Stanford turns away undefeated Washington in a 31-26 win

December 6, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 6, 2020

Stanford zoomed out to a three-touchdown lead and withstood a furious second-half comeback attempt in a 31-26 victory over the previously undefeated Washington Huskies in Seattle on Saturday afternoon.

Stanford led 24-3 at the half, scoring on all four of its possessions. On the afternoon, the Cardinal converted 10 of 13 third downs, including its first six, and ran for 191 yards on 40 attempts. Sophomore Austin Jones led all rushers with 138 yards on 31 carries, both career highs, while recording his third two-touchdown game of 2020. Senior quarterback Davis Mills turned in a solid performance, completing 20 of 30 throws for 252 yards and a touchdown.

The Cardinal defense held the Dawgs to a pedestrian 117 yards on 34 rushing attempts, with senior tailback Sean McGrew gaining 65 yards and two touchdowns on 16 carries for the No. 22 Huskies. Redshirt freshman quarterback Dylan Morris had 254 yards on 15 of 23 passing while running seven times for 36 yards and a touchdown.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 1-2 Stanford

November 29, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 29, 2020

On a Thanksgiving visit to my parent’s house, I got to view Big Game on the house’s big screen. (I don’t have anything larger than a 21-inch monitor at my place in Durham.) It was a nice way to watch, especially because I enjoyed the way events ultimately unfolded.

Addendum: Since I’ve been urging people on Twitter to reconsider holiday get-togethers, I thought I’d note that my Thanksgiving visit involved me, the family dog and one parent. I haven’t seen any individual in person other than my parent since arriving here. As my parent and I have both been pandemic homebodies, the risk of exposure, though not nonexistent, is fairly low. MEM

• The Bad

Stanford has been outgained on the ground in all three contests this year. Oregon ran for 269 yards against Stanford’s 197, Colorado humbled the Cardinal to the tune of 177 to 70, and the Cal Bears had the most lopsided differential of all, 241 to 95.

Friday’s ground attack wasn’t as bad for Stanford as the anemic effort we saw the previous game against Colorado. And the Cardinal’s short-yardage rushing offense showed signs of life that certainly weren’t present against the Buffalos. But on the whole, these are bad numbers for a team that for years used to be able to pound the ball almost at will.

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Axe reclaimed, streak broken: Cardinal breaks into the win column with a 24-23 victory at Cal

November 28, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 28, 2020

Stanford’s defense blocked two kicks and the Cardinal exploited other miscues by the Cal Golden Bears to earn a 24-23 victory in Berkeley on Friday afternoon.

The decision enabled Stanford to reclaim the Stanford Axe, the historic trophy in the West Coast’s oldest football rivalry. It also snapped a six-game losing streak that head coach David Shaw’s team had been riding since November 2019. In bettering its record to 1-2, all in Pac-12 play, the Cardinal became the victor in 10 out of the past 11 Big Games, dating back to a 48-14 road win in 2010.

Cal’s offense had more yardage than the Cardinal, 392 to 300, and gained an even bigger advantage in rushing, where the Bears accumulated 241 yards on 35 tries (6.9 yards per play) to just 95 on 35 carries by Stanford (2.7 ypp). But the numbers were somewhat misleading, as the road team scored its first two touchdowns after recovering Bears fumbles on short fields to rally from early 7-0 and 10-3 deficits.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 0-2 Stanford

November 22, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 22, 2020

There likely won’t be any in-person Stanford football get-togethers this accursed pandemic-stricken year.

• The Bad

Yikes, this Cardinal defense has been extremely soft so far in 2020. Through two games, Stanford is allowing 35 points and 464 yards per game as opposing offenses convert 68 percent of their third downs. (Thirty-five points! Four hundred sixty-four yards! Sixty-eight percent!!!) The Oregon and Colorado offenses combined to average 5.2 yards per rush and 9.6 yards per pass attempt; this latter figure is last in the Pac-12.

Let me end this section where it started. Yikes, the Cardinal defense has been extremely soft so far in 2020. Letting up 35 points against both Oregon and Colorado easily qualify it for this week’s The Bad.

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Big-play Buffalos stampede confused Cardinal, 35-32

November 21, 2020

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 21, 2020

Colorado withstood a fourth-quarter rally to down Stanford 35-32 in the Cardinal football team’s 2020 home opener on Saturday, Nov. 14. Stanford fell to 0-2 on the year and saw its losing streak extended to six games.

Stanford’s string of defeats began with a 16-13 loss in Boulder on Nov. 9, 2019. The Cardinal offense proved much more potent on home ground in this month’s rematch. Unfortunately for coach David Shaw’s squad, the Buffalos were even better.

The Cardinal scored first against Colorado in a drive that saw quarterback Davis Mills complete his first four passes. The throws netted 38 yards in the senior’s first start of 2020 after sitting out at Oregon due to a false-positive Covid-19 test. When the drive stalled at the visitor 30, Shaw summoned his redshirt-senior kicker. Jet Toner nailed the 48-yard field goal, his first on the year after whiffing on tries of 48, 40, 35 and 27 against Oregon in the season opener.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-8 Stanford

December 4, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 4, 2019

I marked the end of Stanford’s 2019 football season where I’d welcomed it: At Tobacco Road, where I watched the Notre Dame game with elation that eventually shaded into apprehension and then despair. It’s fair to say that I was cranky during the second half.

• The Bad

What for Stanford doesn’t belong in this category, especially as the game wore on? The Cardinal was outscored 24-7 in the final 30 minutes, as the Irish gained 249 yards on 44 snaps and held the ball for nineteen minutes and 37 seconds. Stanford’s equivalent figures were 120, 27 and 10:13.

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Irish clobber Stanford, 45-24

December 3, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Dec. 3, 2019

Notre Dame rallied from a 10-point first-half deficit for a 45-24 over host Stanford in the finale of the worst Cardinal football season in more than a decade.

The Irish finished 10-2, with its only losses coming on road clashes at Georgia and Michigan, then ranked third and 15th, respectively. Stanford, condemned to its first losing season since a 4-8 finish in 2007, closed out a 4-9 campaign that saw the Cardinal go 3-6 in Pac-12 games.

The game turned with less than five minutes remaining in the second quarter. After Stanford junior quarterback Davis Mills was only able to run for three yards on third and four, freshman kicker Ryan Sanborn was summoned to punt with the line of scrimmage at the home 24. Freshman defensive lineman Isaiah Foskey blocked the ball, which Notre Dame freshman punter Jay Bramblett recovered at the 1-yard line.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-7 Stanford

November 28, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 28, 2019

I attended the joint Stanford-Cal Big Game viewing party for the fifth year in a row. Suffice to say that the result was not to my liking.

“I can’t believe we have the Axe!” one Cal backer exclaimed joyfully upon the conclusion of the Cardinal’s nine-year victory streak over the Bears.

I had to wait rather a while to pay my bill, which didn’t put me in a good mood.

• The Bad

I was struck after the end of Big Game by the similarities between Stanford’s second half at Washington State and its second half vs. the Bears. Junior quarterback Davis Mills threw two picks in both cases, once per game near the opposing goal line. The Cardinal’s opponents had a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in both cases. And the opposing defense turned the Farm team away on fourth downs with less than two minutes to play in both contests.

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Cal uses two fourth-quarter touchdowns to snap Stanford’s Big Game streak, 24-20

November 27, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 27, 2019

Cal quarterback Chase Garbers ran for a 16-yard touchdown with 79 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter to lead the Bears to a 24-20 win, the team’s first victory over Stanford since 2009.

The outcome of the 122nd Big Game clinched bowl eligibility for the Bears (6-5 overall, 3-5 in the Pac-12) while ensuring that the Cardinal (4-7, 3-6) will have its first losing season since 2008.

Garbers, participating in only his second game since sustaining an injury in late September, finished with 285 yards on 20 of 30 passing. The redshirt sophomore threw one touchdown and one interception; he was also the game’s leading rusher with 72 yards on 13 carries.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-6 Stanford

November 22, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 22, 2019

I watched the Stanford–Washington State game at the one Durham venue that I know for sure has Spectrum cable, which carries the Pac-12 Networks. The outcome, sadly, did not go as I’d hoped.

• The Bad

I went through these numbers the other day: Washington State scored on nine of its first 10 possessions, held the ball for nearly 34 minutes and accumulated 624 yards on offense, including 520 through the air.

But as tempted as I am to ding the Cardinal defense — especially the Cardinal pass defense — I’m going to hold off. Stanford has been thin at inside linebacker all year, and the secondary came down with the injury bug at perhaps the worst possible time. Junior cornerback Paulson Adebo and senior free safety Malik Antoine, each of whom had made 20 consecutive starts, didn’t play at all against Wazzu. That’s not exactly an excuse for allowing 520 passing yards, but maybe I’m feeling generous today.

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Cougars surge past Stanford, 49-22

November 18, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 18, 2019

Washington State scored 24 unanswered points over the final 19 minutes in a 49-22 victory over the Stanford football team Saturday afternoon.

Both starting quarterbacks recorded more 500 passing yards during the contest, which gave WSU head coach Mike Leach a four-game winning streak over Stanford. But the host Cougars (5-5 overall, 2-5 Pac-12) scored on nine of their first 11 possessions, while the Cardinal (4-6, 3-5) managed just three touchdowns over the same number of offensive drives.

WSU dominated Stanford in three key areas:

• The Cougars mounted a respectable ground game, generating 104 yards on 21 rushes. Stanford was held to six rushing yards on 10 tries, the Cardinal’s worst output in that category since the 2007 squad finished with minus-8 yards on 25 carries in a 23-6 road loss at Oregon State. (Quarterback Tavita Pritchard, now Stanford’s QB coach and offensive coordinator, was sacked nine times for minus-38 in that outing.)

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-5 Stanford

November 13, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 13, 2019

The Pac-12 Networks, a production and broadcast organization wholly owned by the collegiate sports league whose name it bears, has famously limited availability. The conference’s system of regional channels for the Bay Area, Southern California, Arizona, Oregon, Washington and the mountain states (read: Colorado and Utah), plus a “main” conference channel, has never signed a distribution deal with DirecTV.

The Pac-12 Networks have only 19 million subscribers. That’s fewer than Fox’s Spanish-language sports channel and other TV powerhouses such as Great American Country, Justice Central, MaxPrime, Ovation Network and the Smithsonian Channel, according to SBNation.

When your team is mediocre, its games tend to be relegated to the Pac-12 Networks, which makes it very hard to watch said games. For Stanford’s demoralizing loss at Colorado, I met a buddy at a venue that doesn’t subscribe to the channel; we wound up listening to the KZSU radio feed through my phone on my pal’s Bluetooth earbuds. (We each used one of his buds — my phone is evidently incapable of connecting simultaneously to multiple Bluetooth devices.)

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Colorado squeaks past Stanford, 16-13

November 12, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Nov. 12, 2019

Stanford dropped a 16-13 decision at Colorado on Saturday when a dismal offensive outing by the Cardinal was supplemented by crucial second-half breakdowns on defense and special teams.

Redshirt freshman Evan Price won the game on Colorado’s homecoming weekend by hitting a 37-yard kick as time expired, his third field goal of the game. Stanford (4-5 overall, 3-4 in league) had taken a 13-10 lead 55 seconds into the fourth quarter thanks to a 79-yard touchdown throw from K.J. Costello to Simi Fehoko, but the Buffalo (4-6, 2-5) came back by mounting two methodical field-goal drives that ate up an astonishing 12 minutes and 31 seconds of the final period.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 4-4 Stanford

October 29, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 29, 2019

The Arizona game marked the second time this year that a Stanford game was broadcast by the Pac-12 Network. Rather than attempt to find a bar or restaurant near my parent’s home that had the Dish Network, and hence carried any of the Pac-12 channels, I wound up listening to the KZSU broadcast of the game on my computer and phone.

(This was, I should note, partly because I took a long late-morning walk and then had a late lunch and then did some shopping, by which point it was 3 p.m. if not later.)

At any rate, Stanford wrapped up its victory right around 7 p.m. Eastern time, which worked out great for me!

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K.J. Costello returns to lead Stanford to a 41-31 homecoming victory over Arizona

October 28, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 28, 2019

K.J. Costello threw for 312 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Stanford football team to a 41-31 win over Arizona on Saturday amid reunion festivities on the Farm.

The Cardinal, who moved to 4-4 overall and 3-3 in the Pac-12, also got outstanding efforts from their most reliable offensive player, redshirt senior running back Cameron Scarlett (two scores and 102 yards on 19 carries), and their emerging star at wide receiver, sophomore Simi Fehoko (two touchdowns and 97 yards on just three catches).

Costello’s 30 completions on 43 throws went to an even dozen players, including himself on a curious play. In all, the offense rolled for 472 yards, a number second this season only to the 482 yards they compiled in their upset victory over Washington.

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Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 3-4 Stanford

October 21, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 21, 2019

The day after Stanford’s brutal loss to UCLA, I realized that I hadn’t donned the possibly lucky Stanford wristband that I’d acquired at the alumni tailgate prior to the UCF debacle and worn during the thrilling victory over the University of Washington.

Was Thursday night’s defeat my fault?!

Anyway, I went to James Joyce Pub and watched Thursday evening’s game with a pal. Things did not go the way we’d hoped, to say the least, and the Bruins were able to beat Stanford for the first time since 2008. Ouch.

• The Bad

There was a whole lot of bad for the Cardinal on Thursday night. UCLA was the first team this season to beat Stanford in time of possession, 31:40 to 28:20; Stanford had led the league in the category, holding the ball 34 minutes and 58 seconds per game. The Bruins defense — which, as noted on Friday, was statistically the worst in the league entering the contest — held the Farm gridders to 198 yards of total offense, their worst output of 2019. UCLA’s previous opponent low was 373 yards of total defense allowed in a loss to San Diego State.

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Bruins maul Stanford, 34-16

October 18, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 18, 2019

Twelve days after turning in their best performance of the season, the Stanford football team put in arguably their worst Thursday evening with a 34-16 home loss to UCLA. The result gave the Bruins (2-5 overall, 2-2 Pac-12) their first win over Stanford since a 23-20 result in Pasadena in 2008, Jim Harbaugh’s second year at the helm of the Cardinal.

The Cardinal offense generated just nine points and 198 yards against the conference’s worst defense in dropping to 3-4 overall and 2-3 in league. The Cardinal defense allowed 455 yards to a Bruins attack that had only been averaging 397 yards to that point in the season.

It was a crushing comedown for a Stanford team that had seemed on the brink of pulling itself together after an injury-riddled start. The defeat left head coach David Shaw’s squad with immense uncertainty after the team’s third-string quarterback, sophomore Jack West, struggled mightily in his first collegiate start.

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

October 10, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 10, 2019

I had kind of a crazy night last weekend.

I watched the first part of Saturday’s Washington–Stanford game at Tobacco Road but deliberately left at halftime because of what happened the last time I’d watched the Cardinal play a night game at that location. I walked to my car, drove home and then walked to a sports bar near my house that I’d never visited, despite it having been open for something like two years.

I say that this venue was near my house, but in fact the walk there covered about three-quarters of a mile. I listened to the early part of the second half on my phone…

…and when I arrived at the front door, I noticed that this establishment closed at 1 a.m., which would be before the game’s conclusion. If I’d realized that, I never would have planned this visit.

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Stanford tames Huskies, 23-13

October 8, 2019

By Matthew E. Milliken
Oct. 8, 2019

A scrappy Stanford team controlled the lines of scrimmage and played its best football game yet to beat No. 15 Washington on Saturday evening, 23-13.

Running back Cameron Scarlett and quarterback Davis Mills posted career-high marks of 151 rushing yards and 293 passing yards, respectively, as the unranked Cardinal improved to 3-3 overall and 2-2 in the Pac-12.

The game got off to a somewhat ominous start for Stanford, which is playing at home throughout October. The Cardinal scored on its first drive thanks to a 20-yard kick by senior Jet Toner. But Washington (4-2, 2-1) went ahead by a 7-3 score when junior quarterback Jacob Eason threw to wide-open sophomore tight end Cade Otton for a three-yard touchdown to cap the Huskies’ first possession. It was reminiscent of the Oregon contest, which saw the Ducks take a 7-3 lead after their first possession.

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