What They're Saying: Arizona 43, Stanford 38

It's not often that a team gains 584 yards, 38 points and loses. That's probably because, as Stanford found out the hard way Saturday night in Tucson, it's not all that often a team allows 553 yards and 43 points. Read on for our take and links to authors up and down the West Coast.

Stanford scored 21 straight points, led by 15 in the second quarter and two possessions entering the fourth, controlled the ball for 36:10 and passed for 434 yards. Arizona, however, proved better than the Card in several crucial areas, to wit:

It was the Wildcats, not Stanford, who dominated the rushing game. Both teams ended up with nearly the same ground yardage total (Arizona had 138 rush yards to Stanford's 150), but it was the Wildcats who tore off 9.9 yards per carry and the Card who had to settle for 3.8 yards per rush. It was Nic Grigsby who averaged 13 yards per carry and broke off a 57-yard touchdown run, while Toby Gerhart needed 23 carries to get his two touchdowns and 123 yards, no more than 16 at a time.

Similarly, Arizona was more efficient in its passing game. Andrew Luck had a great game statistically, going 21-of-35 for three touchdowns, a pick and 423 yards – 12.3 yards per pass. However, while Luck, the Pac-10's No. 2 passer statistically, completed a solid 60 percent of his passes, Arizona's Nick Foles showed why he's the league's No. 1 passer, completing nearly 80 percent of his passes! Foles went 40-of-51 for three touchdowns and 415 yards, so despite the 16 additional attempts, he had three fewer incompletions and one fewer pick than Luck. Indeed, the most succinct possible summary of why Stanford lost would be Foles' stat line.

Nate Whitaker missed a crucial field goal in the early fourth quarter that would have put the Card up by 12. On Stanford's last drive, then, the Card could have hit a chip-shot field goal to win a 44-43 thriller, instead of having to try for the end zone. Whitaker did hit a 33-yarder in the early third and Arizona did miss an extra point, but the three points Stanford left on the board late hurt. One reason Arizona had fewer offensive yards and less time of possession than the Card is that Luck threw a costly pick-six on the Card's first drive, with Robert Golden taking it 79 yards for the game's first score. Who'd have thunk that the game's longest play would not come from the Stanford kickoff or passing game, but an Arizona DB? Both teams had two turnovers, but Stanford didn't advance Arizona's fumbles significantly, while the Wildcats turned a pick into an instant seven.

Most of all, though, for all their production (the offense's helpful), Stanford's units didn't come through when it mattered most. The offense had multiple scores in each of the game's first three quarters. They were scoreless in the fourth. The defense allowed one touchdown in each of the game's first three quarters, which while obviously sub-par, would have been enough on Saturday. Then, in the fourth quarter, Arizona scored two touchdowns, each of them on 40 yard-plus runs.

This author has been a Cardinal fan long enough that he'd seen Stanford blow no shortage of double-digit leads against all probability in the fourth quarter. (And a game-winning touchdown run on a third-and-17 draw certainly qualifies as against all probability.) He hadn't seen these blown losses too much in the Harbaugh era though, and hopes that as the staff grows more comfortable with its roster (and continues to upgrade the roster), he sees it hardly at all. This is a tough one to swallow.

That's our take. Here's a link to stories from around the West:
Arizona-Stanford recaps

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