Posts Tagged ‘Stanford University’

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 »

Bad-Ugly-Good: Taking stock of 5-2 Stanford

October 19, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 19, 2017

Saturday was a sports-watching day. First I went to Devine’s to watch the Yankees lose 2-1 to Houston for the second straight game in the American League Championship Series. After going home to change into Cardinal colors, I walked over to one of downtown Durham’s pinball spots to play a few games before strolling on over to my favored Stanford sports-watching spot in Durham, Tobacco Road. The evening contest’s result was much happier than the afternoon’s, fortunately.

• The Bad 

Previously on Bad-Ugly-Good, I criticized the Cardinal for poor third-down conversion rates on both sides of the ball. In last weekend’s 49-7 demolition of the Ducks, I’m happy to report, these figures were much improved. The Ducks converted 4 of 11 third downs, while the Cardinal offense was successful on a rather healthy seven of 12 tries.

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Stanford pounds Ducks, 49-7

October 17, 2017

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

Bryce Love ran for 147 yards and two touchdowns in limited action and Keller Chryst threw for 181 yards and three scores as Stanford cruised to a 49-7 homecoming win over Oregon on Saturday evening.

The Cardinal moved to 5-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12 while dropping the Ducks to 4-3 (1-3). The outcome, combined with upset losses by No. 5 Washington and No. 8 Washington State, left Stanford at the top of the Pac-12 North standings.

Offensively, Stanford performed like a reincarnation of its 2015 edition. The unit converted seven of 12 third downs, cracked the 500-yard mark, averaged 6.0 yards per carry and controlled the ball for more than 37 minutes. The defense was in throwback mode as well, gathering a pair of interceptions and holding Oregon to four of 11 third-down conversions.

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

October 13, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 13, 2017

There was no real excitement concerning my game-watching circumstances on Saturday evening. I played some pinball and then walked over to my usual spot, where the “drama” consisted of trying to find the Stanford-Utah football broadcast because it had been shunted from Fox Sports 1 to Fox Business News due to the Kansas State–Texas game running long.

One other “point of interest” — this was the first Pac-12 meeting between the Stanford and Utah football teams that I’d seen on television. (Or indeed, in any live or semi-live form.)

• The Bad 

Last week’s The Bad took Stanford to task for its third-down conversion rates, both on offense and defense. I’m happy to report that the defense — despite playing a rather nerve-wracking bend-and-almost-break style at Utah on Saturday evening — stepped up, allowing the Utes to renew the downs just six times in 14 chances. The offense, alas, was simply woeful, as they refreshed the downs on only four of 13 opportunities.

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Determined Cardinal does just enough to prevail in a 23-20 road win over Utah

October 11, 2017

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Oct. 11, 2017

All-world runner Bryce Love found just enough space against a smothering Utah defense to secure a key 23-20 road win for the Stanford football team on Saturday evening in Salt Lake City. The Cardinal moved to 4-2 and 3-1 in the Pac-12 while handing Utah (4-1, 1-1) its first loss.

The Cardinal struck first on a seven-play, 71-yard opening possession highlighted by a 54-yard connection from starting quarterback Keller Chryst to sophomore tight end Kaden Smith. When the series stalled at the Utah 4-yard line, Jet Toner came on to make a 21-yard field goal.

After an exchange of punts, the hosts took advantage of great starting field position — the 50-yard line — to mount a five-play drive. Zack Moss (15 carries, 79 yards) scored from the 2-yard line to put the Utes ahead, 7-3.

After a sequence of punts and unsuccessful field goal attempts — Toner from 27 yards out for Stanford, Matt Gay from 50 for Utah — the Cardinal offense began to find a bit of a rhythm.

The Cardinal’s first series of the second period started with Love running twice, first for a gain of two yards and then for a two-yard loss. This was indicative of the challenge Love faced, as the Utes’ frequently stacked the box and swamped Stanford’s stellar junior tailback. But then backup passer K.J. Costello averted a punt by throwing to Trenton Irwin for 25 yards on third and 10.

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