TWISH: Two wins counter usual October slide

Using recent history as a guide, this time of year normally hasn't been kind to your favorite college football team. As Halloween nears and the World Series looms, Stanford seems to experience an abnormal amount of stinging defeats. For example, as This Week in Stanford History details…

  • Crushing losses occurred in October's final weekend of both 1999 and 2000 against Saturday's four-legged foe, back when Rick Neuheisel took charge of Washington.
  • Once the calendar passed Oct. 19, Buddy Teevens won all of two games in his three Stanford seasons. Then again, didn't you start rooting for losses so he'd end up getting fired?
  • In the afterglow of its monumental upset over USC, the Cardinal took one on the chin at Oregon State this weekend three years ago.

But a scan through the archives does show a few shining nuggets. This Week in Stanford Football is here to put them on display, starting with a game in which Stanford rebounded after a last-second field goal propelled visiting Washington State to an upset.

Oct. 30, 1971: Stanford 31, Oregon State 24

Aside from falling to hapless Washington State, Pac-8 teams had a way of finding embarrassing moments in '71. Six teams dropped their season-opener, with Stanford's win over Missouri the lone face-saving effort. (Washington's triumph over UC Santa Barbara didn't quite hold as much weight.) Respect for the conference was in short supply. The AP poll responded by dropping Stanford from No. 10 to No. 17.

In Corvallis, the inspired hosts gnawed on to a 24-3 first-half lead and were driving for another touchdown in the second quarter. But then the Thunderchicken defense forced a Beaver fumble by substitute QB Jim Kilmartin, igniting the Stanford comeback. Don Bunce then fired a 46-yard touchdown strike to John Winesberry, beginning a run of 28 unanswered points by the Tribe.

Stanford neutralized Oregon State's veer offense by recovering four fumbles. Rod Garcia kicked one of his 14 field goals on the regular season, tops in the nation. And trailing 24-17 heading into the final period, the Indians turned two of those turnovers inside Beaver territory into short touchdown drives.

The defenders, led by consensus All-American linebacker Jeff Siemon, held firm the rest of the way, after allowing 13 points more than their usual per-game yield. With a 20-9 home win over UCLA the following week, the Indians officially secured a second consecutive conference championship.

Coached by Dee Andros (aka "The Great Pumpkin"), the Beavers had already beaten a solid Arizona State team in 1971. But after finishing near the top of the conference for five straight seasons, Oregon State fell to 5-6. Little did the Beavers know that a dreadful stretch of 28 straight losing seasons was upon them.

October 26, 1985: Stanford 28, Arizona 17

Speaking of droughts, several clashed on one of those many scorching afternoons at the old stadium. A Cardinal team that seemed very likely to have its losing skid extended to seven games faced Coach Larry Smith's Rose Bowl-minded Wildcats.

Credit the heroics of John Paye for getting previously 1-6 Stanford back on the winning track. The talented junior quarterback/fourth member of The Police came off the bench to lead three touchdown drives after halftime. With Paye sitting out with a separated throwing shoulder suffered a week earlier at USC, Arizona (6-1, 2-0 coming in) led 17-7 going into the locker room.

The desert-dwelling felines arrived in search of their first New Year's trip to Pasadena – and they still need Leonard Nimoy to help find that treasure. This game actually deprived Arizona of an outright title, as a gimpy shoulder didn't keep Paye from completing 12-of-14 throws for 116 yards. His first pass was intercepted, but he was nearly flawless thereafter.

On third-and-10 from the Wildcat 14 after a Toi Cook interception, Paye read the safety blitz and found Thomas Henley over the middle for the score. The hard-luck Cardinal were finally on to something. When Brian Morris dove for a three-yard touchdown during the opening quarter, the 7-0 lead was Stanford's first in a month.

Stanford grabbed the lead for good on its next series with Paye under center, driving 74 yards and scoring on a five-yard run by Morris. The junior fullback played while fighting a stomach virus. Arizona then fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and it was Paye who capped a short drive with a one-yard plunge.

Greg Baty caught a game-high nine passes for 191 yards. The big tight end made two big receptions on an opening drive led by Fred Buckley (10 completions, 12 throws and 123 yards). The senior's performance deserved a high-five, if not a heads-up on his removal. "Nobody told me at halftime I'd be coming out," he said afterwards. Sorry, Fred!

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