2Q: Fourth-down aggression pays off (28-7)

"And yes, we are going for fourth and one from the CU six, just beautiful to watch David Shaw's evolution. Fake handoff to Remound Wright and play action to Dalton Schultz – the perfect response to CU overloading the box all afternoon – and Schultz doesn't have anyone within five yards as he catches an easy touchdown."

Second quarter starts with another Kevin Hogan keeper on a third and three, and it goes for 20 yards. However, McCaffrey loses two with the Buff backfield blitzing the Stanford backfield, and then a delay of game sets up second and 17. Hogan coverage sack, offensive holding declined. We need a counter to teams (Northwestern, WSU, now Colorado) overloading the box – maybe those play-action passes for which we all fondly remember the Orange Bowl? Or maybe a bomb to Michael Rector, who stops and goes -- and keeping going. In a mirror image of Colorado's play to set up its first touchdown, it's a go route with a little shimmy down the left sideline, and Hogan couldn't have thrown it better, nor could Rector have caught it better, extending with both arms to pull in a ball a few feet in front of him. Six plays, 62 yards, drive lasting 3:43.

Stanford 14, Colorado 7, 11:53 remaining, first half

Want to get mad at the defense about an offside to start the drive? Don't, as Solomon Thomas singlehandedly blows up his man, grabs the back the runner's jersey in his backfield, and yanks him down to the ground. Great play that'll go on his highlight reel in a few years, when it's his turn to enter the NFL Draft.

Colorado then exploits some holes in the Stanford scheme nicely. First, it's a play action to pull Blake Martinez to his left, and a completion underneath into the vacated space moves the chains. Then, on third and three, Stanford tries to drop a linebacker to take away the short stuff to Nelson Spruce, and that's not going to work with the ball coming out so quickly and Ronnie Harris providing a big cushion atop the linebacker. But the defense adjusts, as it so often does in this part of the field, and forces a third-down throwaway on third and five at the 19. And Stanford's field goal defense continues, with Diego Gonzalez missing (quite) wide left from the left hash on a 36-yard try.

Stanford 14, Colorado 7, 8:14 remaining, first half

We have Christian McCaffrey and you don't. He goes for 40 on a sweep right on one of his best carries of the year. Even on slowed-down instant replay, it looks like McCaffrey's running full speed while everyone else is jogging. Perfect cuts too to maximize every yard there, good patience to wait for his blocks to set up, and it took the very last man in the CU defense to push him out of bounds.

A few snaps later, it's Kevin Hogan on a beautiful keeper call converting on third and five. Feed McCaffrey up the middle a couple more times, and then Stanford uses a timeout before third and five from the Buff nine. We're under three minutes left in the first half, and Colorado has just 06:56 of possession: The gameplan is working.

McCaffrey a yard short after getting caught from behind on a third and five screen. Nice recovery by the defensive lineman, as McCaffrey might have scored otherwise. And now we go for it again on fourth and one – I love, love, love this. No, no, Stanford timeout with 1:55 left and one on the play clock to try to limit the CU offense's time to respond.

Total yards 232 to 135. The difference on the scoreboard is that Stanford has finished both of its drives with scores, while one of the Buffs' stalled in the red zone.

And yes, we are going for fourth and one from the CU six, which is just beautiful to watch David Shaw's evolution. Fake handoff to Remound Wright and play action to Dalton Schultz – just like someone called for a bit earlier in this blog, the perfect response – and Schultz doesn't have anyone within five yards as he catches an easy touchdown.

Stanford 21, Colorado 7, 1:51 remaining

12 plays, 80 yards, 6:23, and the Buffs won't even have a full two minutes for their two-minute drive.

Quick out for 11 to move the chains with a CU receiver just getting a foot inbounds, upheld on review. Buffs on just their 21st snap of the half, and a coverage incompletion sets up third and 10. Dallas Lloyd then with a great play from centerfield, driving and diving on a bad Colorado overthrow to set up the Card at their 42. Time for a Stanford drive to blow this one open!

Screen to McCaffrey for nine, then incomplete bomb to Irwin. McCaffrey draw for 12, and he gets out of bounds to boot. Great call. Card with one timeout, 37 seconds and a fresh set of downs at the CU 36. Defensive holding as Trent Irwin draws the flag on a double move. A coming-out game for him today. And then the big blow – a pump fake and then a release to Austin Hooper down the sideline split out wide, and Hooper catches and gets a foot down at the one in between two defenders. Beautiful.

A Wright vulture carry surprisingly doesn't score, but Stanford uses its last timeout with 14 seconds left and the ball now on the one inch line. Card throw a slant to Hooper, but well-covered and should have been picked. 10 seconds left in the half now. Card come out heavy, which I think is fine – touchdown or bust – but throw one more time on third down to see if you can't score that way first. Instead, Hogan scrambles for a touchdown to his left with one second left on the clock. Can't draw it up any better than that. No. 8 saw that his flare route to Remound Wright running right was well-covered, so he pulled and tucked and removed any doubt about this one. Squib kick and we're at the half after 30 minutes of picture-perfect execution from the Cardinal.

Stanford 28, Colorado 7, Halftime


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