What They're Saying: Stanford 33, ASU 14

In a must-win game, Stanford fired on all cylinders to demolish Arizona State, 33-14 on Homecoming Saturday night at Stanford Stadium. The win leaves Stanford at 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the Pac-10, needing one win against Oregon, USC, Cal or Notre Dame to become bowl eligible for the first time since 2001. Already, five wins and four Pac-10 wins tie highs for Jim Harbaugh at Stanford.

Ironically, given that the game occurred on Homecoming, it was youth who shone the way for the Cardinal. Sophomores Johnson Bademosi and Quinn Evans started at cornerback for the Cardinal and helped the Card pitch its first shutout half in far too long. Drew Terrell replaced Richard Sherman at punt returner and averaged a solid 13 yards per return and looked impressive doing it. Fellow freshman receiver Jamal Rashad Patterson started the scoring for the Cardinal on a 22 yard end-around early in the first. Freshman linebacker Shayne Skov made some brutal tackles in kickoff coverage, in addition to providing a steady presence as a starting linebacker.

The Card seemed similarly liberated in their playcalling. The end-around for Stanford's first touchdown, the fake reverse on an early Terrell punt return, the flea flicker attempt, repeatedly getting the ball to playmakers in space via bubble screens or rolling Luck out of the pocket – all these helped Stanford rack up nearly 300 first-half yards and a 24-0 intermission lead. Stanford seems to take more risks at home --and whether by bringing in new faces or running a more diverse offense – that was never more true than during this contest.

Stanford now enjoys a Halloween bye before starting the gauntlet run. Off a bye, they will catch Oregon at home, right after the Ducks host USC in what looks to be the de facto Pac-10 championship game, which is a break. The Card also get Cal after a visit from ranked Arizona, for what might be the de facto third-place game in the Pac-10, and Notre Dame after the Irish have played ballgames in each of the six weeks previous, so the four-game finale might not be as hard at it looks at first blush. Stanford, of course, also hosts each of its final opponents save for USC, and the Card are 9-1 in their last ten at home, compared to 2-11 in their last 11 on the road, with the wins over a putrid Washington State this year and a winless Washington last season.

You can't look at it any other way: after two emotionally crushing losses, this was a major victory for Stanford in their biggest game of the season to-date. Whether they can continue to play at this high of a level after the Halloween break will determine just how long the Cardinal's season lasts.

That's our take, but see what other writers thought. Here are stories from up and down the West Coast.


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