Coming into this game, many expected offensive fireworks with some of the Pac-12's best playmakers populating the sidelines. We've certainly seen quite a bit of offense early in this one, with big plays from both teams and a couple of very unhappy defensive coordinators. Both teams have been powered by their rushing attacks, with Chris Polk leading the Huskies and Tyler Gaffney headlining the Cardinal.
Play of the quarter: Stanford's very first offensive play was a big one, effectively setting the tone early and giving the Cardinal an excellent chance to draw first blood. Andrew Luck tossed the ball to running back Stepfan Taylor, who drew the defense left before tossing to a streaking Chris Owusu around on the return. Owusu took advantage of his blockers and cut upfield for a huge 45-yard gain, immediately injecting energy into this sellout crowd.
Big plays, big gains: The story of the first quarter has been the big play, and the seeming inability of either defense to stop it. Stanford was set up for its early score by a huge Chris Owusu run, and Tyler Gaffney had two 20+ yard runs near the end of the first quarter. Meanwhile, Washington kept its scoring drive alive with passing plays that gained big chunks of yardage, and Chris Polk scored on a 46-yard run.
Running to victory: Both teams have leaned heavily on the rushing attack. Forty-one of Washington's 88 yards have come on the ground, as have 128 of Stanford's 198 yards. Polk leads Washington with 47 yards, while Gaffney is pacing the Cardinal with 58 yards.
Defense (or lack thereof): Washington's defense has been unable to stop almost anything; its only notable achievement has been holding on third down on Stanford's second drive to force the Card into a field goal. Meanwhile, Stanford's defense looked like it had the upper hand after forcing a quick punt early, but it became apparent that it had a lot of work to do after UW's first touchdown.
Halftime: Stanford 38, Washington 14
This quarter was as lopsided as the first quarter was even. The second quarter saw Stanford kick into a higher gear and pull away from Washington. The Cardinal ran over the Huskies literally and figuratively; collectively, Stanford has 17 carries for 247 yards, or 14.5 yards per carry. After giving up a touchdown early in the quarter, Stanford's defense has shut down UW, holding the Huskies to one missed field goal, an interception, and a drive that ended as the clock struck zero. Unless Washington can come out strong and grab some momentum back to open the second half, this game is all but over.
Play of the quarter: With just over 13 minutes left in the quarter, the game looked as though it would stay competitive right down to the end. Chris Polk had just notched a 61-yard touchdown run to narrow Stanford's lead to 17-14. However, Stepfan Taylor had other ideas. On the first play of the drive, Taylor burst through the line and took the ball 70 yards downfield for a touchdown. The score electrified the Cardinal, and Stanford never looked back, shutting down the Washington offense while continuing to pile up points of its own.
Rushing rules: The supremacy of the run game continued through the second quarter. Stepfan Taylor really stepped on the gas for Stanford, racking up 130 yards on just eight carries (a 16.2 yards per carry average). Chris Polk is also having an impressive day for the Huskies. So far, he's got 143 yards on 10 carries. Before this game, Stanford's run defense was yielding just 59.5 yards per game.
Luck unusually quiet: The success of Stanford's running game has meant a quiet first half for star QB Andrew Luck; he has 109 yards on 11-of-13 passing with two touchdowns. Luck also has one carry for five yards. With the run game going as well as it is, I wouldn't be surprised if this trend continues. With head coach David Shaw utilizing a robust running back rotation, the Card can continue putting fresh legs into the game to pound Washington up front.
Second-half prediction: Washington will get the ball back to start the second half, and could turn their fortunes around with a quick score. Even if the Huskies can make that happen though, they still face a long road to get back into this game. Barring a disastrous collapse, the Card will walk out of here with a big win.
End of third quarter: Stanford 48, Washington 14
This game was over after Washington's first possession of the half, when it gave up a quick three-and-out after a couple of Keith Price incompletions. Stanford sealed the deal with a touchdown on its next possession, continuing to move the ball at will on the ground against a hapless Husky front seven. With the game in hand, quarterback Andrew Luck will likely come out in favor of backup Brett Nottingham in the fourth quarter. So far, Luck is 13-for-18 with 125 yards.
Play of the quarter: On Stanford's first drive of the half, Tyler Gaffney looked like he just decided to take the game into his own hands. Gaffney broke off three straight big runs, including a 34-yard read-option play and a 14-yard run out of the Wildcat formation. Gaffney's nine carries for 117 yards highlight what easily has been his best game of the year.
Insane ground numbers: As a team, Stanford has 350 rushing yards. Let me repeat: 350 rushing yards. The Card has almost three times has many rushing yards as passing yards. For the first time since 2008, Stanford has had two running backs—Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney—go over 100 yards, and a host of other players have gotten significant chunks of ground yardage as well. The Cardinal's 11.3 yards per rush is a ridiculous number, with Taylor and Gaffney each over 13 yards per carry.
Lancaster tees off: In previous weeks, I've noted that while Jarek Lancaster's play has been solid, he hasn't been able to wholly fill the shoes of the injured Shayne Skov. I might just have to reverse that position after the numbers he put up against the Huskies. Lancaster has 10 tackles, with a sack and a tackle for loss, as well as one pass deflection. He's been instrumental in limiting Chris Polk in the second half, but did have a couple of misses earlier in the game.
End of game. Final score: Stanford 65, Washington 21
Not too much to report from this quarter, since the game was already out of reach for the Huskies by the time the quarter got started. Andrew Luck did come out of the game early in the quarter in favor of Brett Nottingham, and the Cardinal played its second string for most of the period. This win is going to be a big one for Stanford; beating a ranked team this emphatically should help it reverse its recent slide in the polls.
Play of the quarter: After Stanford went ahead 55-21, Husky kick returner Kevin Smith fumbled the ball on ensuing kickoff return, on a play that put the cherry on top of Washington's awful day. Brent Etiz knocked the ball out of Smith's grasp and Corey Gatewood recovered. A personal foul penalty ended up giving the Cardinal the ball on the Washington 20-yard line. While it didn't really have an impact on the game's outcome, the play just served to highlight how almost nothing has gone right for Washington since the Cardinal turned up the heat in the second quarter.
Record-setting victory: With the victory, Stanford's win streak is extended to 15 games, the longest in school history and the longest active streak in the country. Stanford has also won its last 10 games by 25 points or more, the first time a team has accomplished that feat since 1936. Sixty-five points is the Card's highest point total of the season, eclipsing the 57 it put up on San Jose State in the season-opener. Meanwhile, Stanford's 446 rushing yards is a school record. Both Stepfan Taylor and Tyler Gaffney went over 100 yards, and Anthony Wilkerson was close with 93 yards. Stanford ran the ball 44 times, doubling its 22 pass attempts.
Poll effect: Such a huge victory over a ranked team ensures that Stanford will not fall again this week, and depending on the outcome of the Wisconsin/Michigan State game, the Card could move up a spot or two. Meanwhile, Washington will almost certainly fall out of the Top 25. The Huskies were flat-out embarrassed, and have seen their chance at a Pac-12 North title shredded.
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