Rapid Reaction: A Win, But at What Cost?

The Cardinal used dominant play from its offensive line and great running from its supposedly too small runners to overwhelm a game and frisky group of Oregon State Beavers. The final score was 42-24 as once more Stanford took a close game at halftime and dominated in the second half.

Stanford's character was tested on Friday night in Corvallis. 

They responded with cruelty.

The Cardinal used dominant play from its offensive line and great running from its supposedly too small runners to overwhelm a game and frisky group of Oregon State Beavers.  The final score was 42-24 as once more Stanford took a close game at halftime and dominated in the second half. Stanford finished with 325 yards rushing, good for a 6.8 YPC, which dwarfed the Beavers' 3.1 yard per carry average.  Quarterback Seth Collins did his best to keep Oregon State in the game, mainly by getting the ball to Jordan Villamin (seven catches for 138 yards), but it wasn't enough against a Stanford attack that again saw Kevin Hogan make the most of his opportunities.  Hogan averaged just under 12 yards per attempt on 14 throws, including big strikes of 42 yards to Austin Hooper and 49 to Michael Rector in the  second half.

Remound Wright continued his vulture status, scoring two great goal-line touchdowns on spin moves and punctuating a great night from Christian McCaffrey.  #5 had went for 206 yards , with a 33-yard long, and a 38-yard catch.  It's pretty clear the Age of McCaffrey is upon us.

Stanford's defense struggled in the first half, but settled down in the second.  The Cardinal held Oregon State to only 41 yards during a third quarter in which Stanford took control, outscoring the Beavs 14-0.  The fourth quarter was eventful, but not impactful, as Stanford ended up grinding out the clock and keeping Oregon State to only seven points.

The major subplot in this game, however, was health.  A Stanford team thin on the D line already sustained two more losses, as both Brennan Scarlett and Aziz Shittu left the game and failed to return.  The status of both is unknown at this point. Stanford also lost left tackle Kyle Murphy, but David Bright was able to step in and the Cardinal's ground game didn't miss a beat. Stanford ran for 217 yards after intermission.

After the game, Shaw made a point to laud the efforts of Barry Sanders, whose 65-yard run punctuated the scoring and came right after a Beaver touchdown closed the gap to 11 points.  Oregon State wouldn't threaten again. "You answer a score with a score," Shaw said.  It was especially key on the road to respond so quickly, Shaw added.

Blake Martinez said the key to the second half was sticking to the team's simplified game plan and just "reminding everybody to do their job as individuals."

This was a major gutcheck for a Stanford team that has already been through a great deal of turbulence.  One third of the way through the season, Stanford hasn't been flawless, but they sit at 2-0 in the Pac-12 with a three-game homestand and an extra day of rest ahead of them. They come home with a fortified identity, a newfound explosiveness, and the look of a team that can compete for big stakes in 2015.

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