One week ago Stanford snuck out of its own stadium with a 24-17 victory over lowly Washington State. It wasn’t pretty. After the game, a doctor prescribed two aspirins, a good night’s sleep and then a game with Colorado.
This week, in its first trip to Boulder since 1990, Stanford got the cure it needed with a 48-0 win over hapless Colorado (1-8, 1-5 in Pac-12). The Buffaloes are arguably the worst team in college football. It was Colorado’s first home shutout loss in 26 years.
It’s hard to say whether the lopsided victory was the result of Stanford’s strength, or Colorado’s weakness. Either way, it leaves the Cardinal 7-2 overall, and 5-1 in Pac-12 play. It also means Stanford controls its own destiny as it heads to a tough stretch in its final three regular season games.
During the season Stanford has shown superb defense, very good special teams and an anemic offense desperately in need of an effective quarterback. The Colorado game saw the emergence of a prospective star in the form of 6’4” redshirt sophomore quarterback Kevin Hogan (No. 8). This was his day.
Stanford played three QBs. Josh Nunes (No. 6) was the starter, and Brett Nottingham (No. 7) played in the fourth quarter. Both were ineffective. In between, Hogan was outstanding. We’d seen him earlier in the year, but only for a few plays here and there. This week, he was on top of his game.
Hogan had only thrown one pass before this week (a nine-yard touchdown against Cal in Big Game). This week he went 18-for-23, a sizzling 78 percent. He was already known as a scrambler, but now got a chance to show his size and speed. By game’s end, he was the team’s leading rusher, running seven times for 48 yards. On one 20-yard scramble, he looked particularly impressive. He sprinkled his passes all over the field to tight ends, wide receivers and running backs. He threw from the pocket as well as on the run. In short, Hogan put on quite a show.
Hogan also found ways to get it done. Five of his six possessions put points on the board, the first four with touchdowns. He allowed the team to go to the locker room at halftime with a 35-0 lead, taking all the drama out of the second half.
After the game Coach David Shaw was not ready to name Hogan as the starter next week. But he did say about next week, “You’ll see a lot of Kevin Hogan.” Hmmm…We wonder what he meant by that.
Once again the defense was absolutely outstanding. We’ve now come to expect that. It’s just great fun to watch them ply their craft week after week.
It didn’t take long. In the middle of the first quarter Safety Ed Reynolds (No. 29) picked off an errant Colorado pass and ran it back 52 yards for a touchdown. It was his fifth pick of the year, and third run back for a TD. Last week his fourth-quarter pick-six against Washington State produced the game-winning margin.
The defense was incredibly strong all game. For the second week in a row, Stanford’s opponent ended up with negative rushing yards (-21 this time). The team bolstered its national stats once again; Stanford leads the nation in several categories:
- No. 1 rushing defense (58 yards per game)
- No. 1 in sacks (39 in nine games)
- No. 1 in tackles for a loss (9.2 per game)
- No. 12 in scoring defense (16.6 points per game), and this would be much lower had they not given up 48 points to Arizona
Stanford’s defense was so dominant that Colorado did not reach the Stanford side of the field until the middle of the fourth quarter, and ended the game with only two snaps on that side of the field.
Stepfan Taylor Watch
Running back Stepfan Taylor (No. 33) had a fairly quiet day: 10 rushes for 43 yards and two TDs, and four catches for 24 yards. He needs another 53 yards to reach 1,000 yards for the season. That should happen next week, and will mark the third consecutive season over 1,000 yards in his illustrious career.
Pretty good job this week by special teams. The kicking game included two 30-yard plus field goals by Jordan Williamson (No. 19), with no failed attempts.
Stanford fell one place in the AP poll this week to No. 16. UCLA routed Arizona this week 66-10, and jumped up in the polls. That means Stanford’s last three games will be against strong ranked teams:
- Nov. 10 vs. No. 13 Oregon State
- Nov. 17 at No. 2 Oregon
- Nov. 24 at No. 17 UCLA
This will be a tough challenge. Run the table and Stanford can win the Pac-12. Lose all three and Stanford will end up at a lesser bowl game. At this point, anything is possible. The competition stiffens considerably compared to the last two weeks. We are going to get a chance to see just how good Kevin Hogan is. And we know what his response will be, “Bring it on!”