Rapid Reaction: The Dream Lives On

Hogan said that on a play on which Stanford had been forced to use a time out, he'd noticed that WSU's alignment provided him with running opportunities. And so Coach Shaw, who admitted "nothing else was working," put the ball in Hogan's hands and legs, and the senior did not disappoint.

And... exhale. There's a great escape chapter in every storybook season. Saturday night in Pullman, it appeared for nearly three quarters that Mike Leach's Cougars were on the verge of ripping away pole position in the Pac-12 North, and the Cardinal's playoff dreams as well. Instead, unlike in Evanston, Stanford's players and coaches gathered themselves and made the necessary adjustments in the locker room. And then they went out on the field and did just enough to escape the Palouse with a 30-28 win that revived flatlining hopes for an unprecedented season.

First we start with what was wrong. Stanford's offense at the half was averaging 2.7 yards per play. Considering that Stanford's offense came in averaging 7.2 yards per play, it goes without saying that the Cougars were playing an outstanding game and Stanford was at a loss. Kevin Hogan, the conference's best quarterback coming into the night, looked caught in a fog of hesitation and frustration, as he underthrew passes, was sacked four times, and saw the Cardinal's power running game DOA.

But from out of the darkness comes......#LetHoganBeHogan. Stanford fans all year have emphasized how important the Cardinal quarterback's legs are to his overall effectiveness. After chasing a passing rhythm that would elude him, Hogan and the coaches took a look from the first half and turned it into the path to paydirt.

Hogan said that on a play on which Stanford had been forced to use a time out, he'd noticed that WSU's alignment provided him with running opportunities. And so Coach Shaw, who admitted "nothing else was working," put the ball in Hogan's hands and legs, and the senior did not disappoint. He ran for 138 yards on nine carries in the second half to help Stanford overcome deficits of 15-3 and 22-10. First, he burst up the middle for a 40-yard run that set up a Remound Wright vulture TD, and then he cut loose up the right sideline, and with a great block downfield from Michael Rector, scored a 59-yard touchdown of his own to pull Stanford within 22-20. He capped it off with a six-yard run for six that put Stanford up 27-22.

And that brings us to what had been working, and that would be the Stanford defense. Against the best red zone offense in the conference, Stanford repeatedly denied the thirsty Cougars the end zone, ultimately forcing WSU to kick five field goals. Then, they really jolted the Martin Stadium crowd with a pair of interceptions from true freshman Quenton Meeks. The first came at the WSU 31, when he jumped a bubble screen, and the second came with 3:27 to go, after the Cougars had regained the lead and the ball. Stanford then ran the ball down to the one-yard line, but was forced to settle for a field goal, setting up Washington State for one last chance.

At this point, I'd had approximately 75 heart attacks, my hands were shaking, and I was rocking like an old grandmother at sundown. Stanford seemingly ended the drama when Solomon Thomas smashed into Falk on a second and seven and the Cardinal recovered. However, replay reversed the call on the field and Stanford would be forced to keep defending. They had Washington State on a fourth and seven when Luke forced a laser down the seam to Dom Williams for 23, and then followed it up with another pass to Williams for seven yards. That set up Washington State up at the 27 for the game's final seconds: Kicker Erik Powell came out for a 43-yard kick that hooked wide right, and the Cardinal escaped. It was a miraculous Halloween miracle that pushed the Cardinal to 7-1 overall and 6-0 in the Pac-12.

That 6-0 cannot be overstated, as every other Pac-12 North squad has at least two conference losses. That means that a Cardinal win over Colorado would eliminate Washington State and the Oregon-Cal loser from the race. That would leave the winner of the Oregon-Cal game, who could only leapfrog Stanford if they won out and Stanford lost twice. That's a huge cushion to have headed into showdowns at home against the Ducks and the Bears.

But those are matters for another night. For now, be grateful that the Cardinal treated its fans to a Halloween fright fest that ended with the Good Guys surviving and advancing.


  • Kodi Whitfield and Kevin Anderson kept receiver John Thompson out of the end zone on a two-point try, after Anderson had been flagged for a roughing the passer penalty on the initial extra point try. That stop ended up providing the winning margin.
  • Washington State's conference-only touchdown percentage in the red zone was 82%. Tonight: 33%. The Cardinal defense, which continues to play with essentially three down linemen, bent all night but wouldn't surrender the booty to the Pirate. Just as Washington State's defense rose up and played a great game, the Cardinal defense had the offense's back tonight.
  • Jake Bailey: Please keep kickoffs in bounds.
  • And speaking of kickoffs, Washington State committed all night long (until the last kick) to shortening their kickoffs to keep the ball out of Stanford's hands. McCaffrey ended up with no touches via the kickoff, but Stanford's average field position on the night was its own 42 yard line. Considering how much the offense struggled, long fields may have been too much to overcome. It was a calculated risk, and certainly Stanford needs to make teams pay a higher price for gifting them field position like that.
  • I'm going to say that on the McCaffrey non-fumble, there was simultaneous possession but it occurred with both McCaffrey and Ivan McLennan out of bounds. It was the right call. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

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