Posts Tagged ‘Solomon Thomas’

Stanford tops UNC, 25-23, in Sun Bowl nail-biter

December 31, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 31, 2016

Stanford football closed out its 2016 season with a down-to-the-wire 25-23 victory over the University of North Carolina in the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.

Fittingly, the game played out like a revue of some of Stanford’s 2016 highlights and lowlights. Among the latter, the opening-series three-and-out struck a familiar chord, and the team’s inability to score a touchdown in five red-zone trips called to mind the Cardinal’s offensive futility for much of September and October.

The highlights included a few dynamic, if isolated, moments from the passing game as well as the elusive quickness that backup running back Bryce Love had flashed a few times throughout the season and the surprising toughness that he demonstrated when he got the start for an injured Christian McCaffrey in Stanford’s 17-10 win at Notre Dame.

In the end, the Stanford squad won the exact same way it had in the opening weeks of the season: Thanks to the contributions of a salty defense that stepped up when the offense faltered.

Speaking of McCaffrey, he was absent from this game, too, having declared his intention to enter the NFL draft after the Rice game and subsequently opted out of playing in the Sun Bowl. He had to feel good about that decision after not one but two Cardinal players sustained injuries that at least one former athlete blamed on the stadium’s artificial turf.

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Cardinal cruises at Oregon, 52-27

November 15, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Nov. 15, 2016

Should you happen to flip through the recent records of what is now the Pac-12 Conference, you’ll notice something interesting:

Although the league had 10 teams from 1978 through 2011, and now contains an even dozen universities in the American West, ownership of the football title has been somewhat streaky. The University of Spoiled — sorry, the University of Southern California — had a six-year run atop the conference spanning 2003 through 2008. Since then, however, the championship has belonged to one of two teams: either Stanford University or the University of Oregon.

The Ducks won the Pac-12 three years running, from 2009 through 2011, before yielding to the Cardinal the next two years. Oregon reclaimed its crown in 2014 but was shouldered aside by Stanford last year. Over this period, encounters between Stanford and Oregon were generally expected to have important implications for the state of conference — and in some years, for all of college football.

It became evident in early October that another team would be this year’s league champion. Stanford’s chances of winning the Northern Division were severely damaged by the blowout loss to Washington and essentially eliminated in the following week’s nearly-as-ugly blowout loss to Washington State. By that point, the Ducks were mired in what eventually became a five-game conference losing streak.

And so it was that on Saturday in Eugene, the 6-3 Cardinal was hosted by a 3-6 Ducks team that had managed to win but a single conference game. A clash of the titans this was not.

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

October 24, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 24, 2016

I should have taken my own suggestion.

On Saturday, I contemplated going on a long walk prior to Stanford’s kickoff against Colorado. Instead, I took the lazy route and lounged about my house before walking one mile so I could take care of an errand right before kickoff. Later, as the second half was getting under way, I walked about three-quarters of a mile from a residential area where I parked my car to an establishment in Durham’s Brightleaf district.

So I did not embark upon anything close to a 58-minute, 3.7-mile walk — and perhaps as a consequence, my superstitious self tells my supposedly rational brain, the Stanford football team turned in a thoroughly inept 10-5 loss to Colorado. Blecch.

• The Bad

This offense, man. As I wrote yesterday, the five-point output — two of which, of course, were generated by a safety — was Stanford’s lowest scoring total in any game since Sept. 29, 2007, when No. 23 Arizona State pounded the Cardinal, 41-3.

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Buffaloes snatch a 10-5 win on the Farm from an inept, self-defeating Stanford offense

October 23, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 23, 2016

A punchless Stanford football team went down to defeat Saturday, dropping a 10-5 home decision to a resurgent Colorado.

It was only the Buffaloes’ third win in 21 games that the program has played in the state of California. Colorado moved to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12, while the host Cardinal dropped to 4-3 and 2-3.

The Cardinal offense mounted 12 drives on Saturday afternoon, and most of them resulted in a display of futility. The team turned the ball over four times and punted five times, including a trio of three-and-outs. Only five Stanford possessions spanned five or more plays; only three advanced more than 28 yards.

Stanford has now scored four offensive touchdowns in its past five games. Of those, only two — second-half scores against UCLA and Notre Dame — had a material impact on the outcome of the contest.

Quarterback Ryan Burns turned in what I would deem a Burnsian performance, only more so: He made some nifty plays, mainly short- and mid-range throws that he zipped to Trenton Irwin, who finished with seven catches for 88 yards. But these were offset by missed opportunities and adverse plays.

Burns completed 16 of 29 passes for 170 yards (5.9 yards per attempt) with no touchdowns and three interceptions, two of which took place in the final period. He also was involved in two fumbles — one in the second quarter, which Stanford tackle Casey Tucker got back, and another in the fourth quarter, which Colorado linebacker Kenneth Olugbode recovered following a muffed center-QB exchange.

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

October 21, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 21, 2016

After Stanford got embarrassed in Seattle in front of a national audience on a late-September Friday night, I took a lengthy walk around the Durham Bulls baseball stadium.

This past Saturday, prior to the Stanford football team’s encounter with Notre Dame, I took an even longer walk, wandering about a residential part of Cary, N.C. As this screen capture from my smartphone’s Fitbit app shows, I covered 3.7 miles in a shade less than an hour.

Oct. 15, 2016, walk.

As you know, Stanford came away with a thrilling 17-10 road win on Saturday. So maybe I need to take a hike before every Cardinal football team for the rest of this season…?

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The Cardinal rules, 45-16, in a Rose Bowl romp

January 2, 2016

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 2, 2016

One of the greatest seasons in Stanford football history ended on Jan. 1, 2016, with a resounding victory in the most hallowed of all college football venues — the Rose Bowl in Pasadena.

The Cardinal demolished the Big Ten’s runner-up, the Iowa Hawkeyes, with a 45-16 steamrolling of the type that most Pac-12 teams came to know well in 2015. During the game, Christian McCaffrey set several Rose Bowl records and made a significant fraction of Hawkeyes defenders and Heisman Trophy voters look foolish.

The night before the Rose Bowl, Heisman winner Derrick Henry finished Alabama’s 38-0 embarrassment of the Big Ten champion Michigan State Spartans with 20 rushes for 75 yards (3.8 yards per carry) and one catch for minus-two yards.

McCaffrey outdid Henry with his first touch of the game. On the 102nd Rose Bowl’s initial play from scrimmage, Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan threw McCaffrey a short pass in the flat that the super sophomore took to the house for a 75-yard touchdown reception. McCaffrey went on to amass 172 yards on 18 carries (9.6 yards per cary) and 105 yards receiving on four catches.

McCaffrey also got two opportunities on special teams — a 28-yard kickoff return and a 63-yard punt return for a touchdown that put the Cardinal ahead, 28-0, early in the second quarter. Add it all up and the 2015 Heisman Trophy runner-up finished the day with 368 all-purpose yards. Not only was that good for a Rose Bowl record, it made for the fourth-highest total of any bowl game in the history of college football.

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2015 Pac-12 football championship recap: Two teams played; the better team prevailed.

December 9, 2015

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Dec. 9, 2015

In every good action movie, there’s a part, often around the halfway or two-thirds mark, where the hero is given cause to think that she or he might be overmatched.

During Saturday night’s Pac-12 championship game between the USC and Stanford football teams, that part came, on cue, in a sequence that began in the second period and lasted until late in the third quarter.

The Cardinal entered the second period with a 3-0 lead and would add to it immediately. Everybody’s All-Everything, Christian McCaffrey, lined up on the left flank. On the first snap of the quarter, quarterback Kevin Hogan pitched right to Barry Sanders, who was lined up at tailback. As McCaffrey raced around the formation, Hogan — who was completely ignored by outside linebacker Scott Felix — stepped to his right and made his way past the line of scrimmage. Sanders made a short lateral to McCaffrey, who set his feet and lobbed a soft throw to an unguarded Hogan on the right side. The 11-yard touchdown was McCaffrey’s second scoring pass of the year.

The Cardinal defense forced a Trojans punt after just three plays, and McCaffrey went back to work right away with a 50-yard run on the first play of the new series, bringing the ball to the USC 15-yard line. Stanford would end up having third and goal at the 1-yard line, but Remound Wright was stuffed by Anthony Sarao. After a delay-of-game penalty, the Cardinal called in Conrad Ukropina to kick his second field goal of the night.

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