What They're Saying: Stanford 24, Arizona 23

"According to Vegas, it was an upset, but this upset was different than the shockers of 2007. For the first time, Stanford outplayed a solid opponent from start to finish. The Cardinal left no doubt: they deserved to win this game." That's our take. Read more, and see what other writers think from Arizona, Stanford and across the nation.

Stanford 24, Arizona 23

The day Stanford football arrived  

Considering the sad state of Stanford football in the 2000s, the Cardinal have experienced more than their fair share of big wins. Last year, Jim Harbaugh's first, the Card shocked USC, 24-23, and then capped the season with a 20-13 upset of Cal in the Big Game.

But those wins were fluky. Statistically, Stanford was incredibly lucky to beat a USC team that gained 224 more yards. And, rhetorically, the win just wasn't taken that seriously. Stanford, the talking heads stressed over and over, was the biggest-ever underdog to win a football game. It seems like a compliment on the surface, and was meant that way in the sweet afterglow of an upset that truly did shock the world, but being a 41-point underdog in the first place spoke volumes about the state of Stanford football.  

And though Stanford was the ultimate David just a year ago, the Cardinal decisively closed the book on that chapter of their history today. Stanford won't be that big an underdog for the foreseeable future, will never be taken that lightly again, because of wins like today's 24-23 victory over Arizona.

According to Vegas, it was an upset, but this upset was different than the shockers of 2007. For the first time, Stanford outplayed a solid opponent from start to finish. The Cardinal left no doubt: they deserved to win this game.

Stanford gained more total yards. Stanford was more physical on the lines.

The Card possessed the ball for 34:35. The Card possessed the ability to weather a 10-point deficit, punching back with 10 straight points of their own, and the game-winning touchdown with 25 seconds to go.

The fluky stuff went against Stanford today -- a Tavita Pritchard interception returned for a touchdown, and a -3 turnover margin. That the Cardinal still defeated a sound opponent shows how far they have come.

Speaking not as a fan nor alumnus, but strictly as an analyst, the objective best guess is that Stanford starts winning consistently after this year. In other words, given this year's results and future years' recruiting, 2008 should be the year Jim Harbaugh turns around the Cardinal for good. When we're looking back on the Harbaugh Era decades from now, we'll remember 2008 as the critical year, and within 2008, it seems like this will be the game.

Up to this point, the Cardinal's season had gone as expected. The favorite was 5-1 in Stanford games, with the only upset Stanford in the season opener over an Oregon State team that simply wasn't that good early, as many Cardinal fans had suspected over the summer.

And maybe Arizona will prove overrated -- halfway through the season their best win is still against a decidedly mediocre UCLA. But for Stanford, none of that matters anymore, because the Card now control their own destiny, with the path to a bowl crystal-clear.

There should be touchdown-plus lines in the Card's last four games of the season. Stanford will be heavily favored against Washington State, and heavy dogs to USC, Oregon and Cal. If those games play to form, then Stanford is 5-6. The only game unaccounted for in that analysis, therefore, is the one that singlehandedly seperates Stanford from its first bowl appearance since 2001, a bowl berth that was the Card's No. 1 team goal heading into the season.

That game, of course, is at UCLA, next Saturday (1 p.m.).

It is no exaggeration, therefore, to say that UCLA now becomes Stanford's biggest game since 2001. With the increased stakes comes increased pressure: the Cardinal have a long way to go and cannot afford to squander this golden opportunity, an opportunity that hasn't come by that often in Palo Alto, as fans know all too painfully. But just the fact that Stanford's playing its biggest game in two generations of undergrads shows the importance of today's win.

Because of the Arizona win and the three that have preceded it, Stanford football is back to being a real football team, playing in meaningful games with postseason and national implications. Because of the Arizona win, because success begets success, and because recruits are noticing the Card's success this season, Stanford should continue to be a nationally meaningful team for years to come.

Because of the Arizona win, today was the day that Stanford football arrived.

That's our take. Here's what other writers thought.

National:

Associated Press
Stanford has been wondering whether Alex Loukas would ever live up to his incredible potential. The junior finally did it against Arizona when the Cardinal were down to their third quarterback and their last chance. [Ed: Really? We wonder a lot of things on The Bootleg. I wouldn't put when Alex Loukas would live up to his potential in the top 30. Seems like a stretch to me.]
 
Ted Miller
ESPN.com
You didn't need to see this one on television to understand what happened in Stanford's 24-23 victory over Arizona.
 
What we learned in the Pac-10, Week 7
Ted Miller
ESPN.com
Stanford is the Pac-10's most physical team: Stanford isn't the fastest team in the conference. It's not the most talented team by any stretch. But the Cardinal gets after it.

Local:

Cardinal close in on goal of making bowl
Jake Curtis
San Francisco Chronicle
A bowl game had been the stated preseason goal for both Stanford and Arizona, and Saturday's result had a major impact on both teams' hopes.
 
Stanford digs deep Third-string quarterback Loukas leads winning ...
Jake Curtis
San Francisco Chronicle
When a team loses the turnover battle 3-0 and has its third-string quarterback playing with the game on the line, it is not supposed to win.

Stanford notes: Pritchard uncertain for UCLA
Jake Curtis
San Francisco Chronicle
If Tavita Pritchard is sufficiently recovered from his concussion symptoms, he would be the starter for Saturday's game at UCLA.
[Ed: You know newspapers are struggling when they're asking one writer to crank out three stories on a game. Curtis, and the Arizona Daily Star's Ryan Finley, deserve a raise and some overtime pay.]

Stanford wins a thriller, nears bowl bid
Jon Wilner
San Jose Mercury News
It was not as spirited a celebration as the one that followed Stanford's upset of USC last year. And yet the 24-23 victory over Arizona on Saturday was, in one respect, more important.

Cardinal spoils Tuitama's trip
Bob Highfill
Stockton Record
Alex Loukas was the unlikely hero for Stanford.

Dramatic 24-23 Pac-10 football win for Stanford
Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online
It was homecoming, so it was a game that the Stanford football team wanted to win. More important, it was a game the Cardinal needed to win.


Arizona:

Running aground
Ryan Finley
Arizona Daily Star
The Stanford Stadium scoreboard remained lit for hours after Saturday's game ended, broadcasting the final score and yardage totals in vivid red numbers. The Arizona Wildcats don't need reminding.

Clock game ticks off Wildcats
Ryan Finley
Arizona Daily Star
The Arizona Wildcats weren't surprised by Stanford's grind-it-out offensive style, just powerless to stop it.

Arizona's report card: Stanford 24, Arizona 23
Ryan Finley
Arizona Daily Star
Front 7: D+. The Wildcats were beaten into the ground by Stanford's rushing attack, and showed little resistance with the game on the line.

The Front Row: Throw us a bone
Nick Prevenas
Green Valley News
Regardless of what happened yesterday afternoon, this has still been the most enjoyable Arizona football team to follow in quite some time.
 


Are you fully subscribed to The Bootleg ? If not, then you are missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up )!


The Bootleg Top Stories