What They're Saying: Stanford 58, WSU 0

Stanford did as well as it could have Saturday, beating hapless Washington State 58-0 in the rain. The Bootleg reviews the WSU games, plus looks ahead at how Stanford, Cal and USC's home-road splits will affect the Card's odds of reaching bowl eligibility. Plus, read what Stanford and WSU newspaper writers thought.

Stanford 58, Washington State 0

Taking care of business

We're not going to let ourselves get carried away and draw too many conclusions from a 58-point rout of, arguably, the worst-ever BCS-conference team, but here are a few observations it's safe to draw after Saturday:

1. Stanford did what good teams do. They buried overmatched Washington State, stepped on the gas and didn't let off until the score was 51-0 with 19 minutes left. The Card aren't playing down to their opponents. The two games in which they've been serious favorites, today and against San Jose State, they looked the part.

2. The Cardinal are now officially playing on the house's money at 5-4. It certainly won't feel this way if Stanford does lose its last three, but the Cardinal have already met any rational expectations for their 2008 season. Preseason, no one outside our message boards would have thought that the Card would make a bowl this year, Vegas casinos had Stanford's win total at four, and the Card were universally picked to finish next to the Washington schools at the bottom of the Pac-10. We'll leave it to you the reader to insert the trite line here about how they don't play the games on paper.

3. No place like home. Let Jim Harbaugh decry the small crowds all he wants, but the Card are now 4-0 at home, including their two best wins of the season, upsets of Arizona and Oregon State. The Card are 4-0 against the spread at home too, thanks to trouncing the Cougars and Spartans.

4. On the road, however, life has been difficult, to put it charitably. Stanford is 1-4 (and just 1-4 against the spread), with only the upset win of Jake Locker-less Washington to its credit. The way Stanford's been playing at home, you'd have to think they would have been competitive, if not outright favorites, against UCLA, Arizona State and Notre Dame, were those games held in Palo Alto. The difference between being on the road versus at home is worth less than a touchdown to most teams, but for Stanford this season, it's seemed to be worth about double that, for whatever reason. (The Card were 2-2 on the road last year, but just 2-6 at home, making this year's trend all the more surprising.) It's been wonderful thus far, but let's hope that trend snaps really soon...

5. 1-in-3. Early guesses: Stanford +13 at Oregon. Stanford +18 vs. USC. Stanford +17 at Cal. (Some comparative lines that shaped my opinion: Oregon was -19 vs. UCLA and -10 vs. Boise State, USC was -24 at Oregon State and -14 at Arizona, and Cal was -18 vs. UCLA and -9.5 vs. ASU.) Stanford +13, +18 and +17 would imply the Card have a 15 percent chance against Oregon, and about a 10 percent chance against USC and Cal, which in turn means Stanford will steal at least one of their next three just over 30 percent of the time. 1-in-3 to go bowling sounds about right, and that's our best guess as to whether the BootTrain might be rolling into Vegas or Hawaii in two months' time.

6. USC overrated, Cal underrated? Stanford's best shot at qualifying for a bowl undoutedly comes this Saturday. However, if the Card were to strike out in Eugene, their odds of reaching the magic number six against USC are better than fans might think at first glance. Stanford will have its massive homefield edge working in its favor, and USC also has one of the biggest home-road disparities in the country. The Trojans did paste Virginia and Washington State on the road, but also lost 27-21 at Oregon State and squeaked by Arizona, 17-10. At home, conversely, USC has demolished a better slate of teams, Ohio State, Oregon, Arizona State and Washington, by at least 28 points apiece. Cal, meanwhile, is another team with a huge home-road split: a perfect 5-0 straight up and against the spread in Berkeley, but 1-2 on both counts (with the only win Washington State) away.

USC is a better team than Cal, and with next Saturday's game in L.A., the Trojans should make that abundantly clear. But with USC at home, Cal on the road and all three teams showing Jekell and Hyde-like home-away splits, I think Stanford has about even shots in each of its last two.

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

National:

Associated Press
After wrapping up their most lopsided win in 59 years, the Stanford players know that if they can pull off one more victory this season it will be their most gratifying.
 
 
Stanford:

Stanford clobbers helpless Washington State
Michelle Smith
San Francisco Chronicle

After beating Washington State 58-0 at a soggy and nearly empty Stanford Stadium on Saturday - the program's biggest margin of victory in 59 years - the Cardinal come face-to-face with the stretch that determines their destiny. 

Stanford notes: Cougars set Pac-10 mark for points allowed
Michelle Smith
San Francisco Chronicle

The Cougars have given up 350 points in Pac-10 play, breaking the conference record for points allowed in a season.

Stanford pours it on Washington State 58-0
Darren Sabedra
San Jose Mercury News
Stanford did the expected Saturday, running over dreadful Washington State 58-0 on a rain-soaked afternoon at mostly empty Stanford Stadium.

Stanford back to playing underdog
Darren Sabedra
San Jose Mercury News
Stanford found itself in uncharted waters Saturday as an overwhelming favorite. But starting this week at Oregon, the Cardinal will be back in its underdog role.
 
Gerhart scores four times in Stanford's 58-0 win
Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online

The field was sloppy and progressively worsened as Stanford continued to overrun visiting Washington State, 58-0.
 
 
Washington State:

It's hard to define WSU's weaknesses when everything goes so poorly
Bud Withers
Seattle Times

Someday, perhaps Saturday's dreary tableau will merely be a faded memory of a unspeakably bad time: Steady rain descended, the clock expired and a Washington State assistant coach barked at a handful of WSU players slogging off the field toward the locker room, to remind htem to shake hands with Stanford.

Stanford clubs Washington St. 58-0
Howie Stalwick
Seattle Post Intelligencer
Washington State rendered a performance Saturday that was a mirror image of the weather: dark, dreary and all wet.

Cougars Notebook: Cougars admit some gave up
Howie Stalwick
Seattle Post Intelligencer

Paul Wulff, the first-year coach of the Washington State football team, has questioned the character of some of his players on more than a few occasions.

Worst Pac-10 team ever?
Thomas Preston
Cougfan.com

We take a look at just how bad the Cougars are.


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