Stanford's defense may have entered 2010 as a question mark, but the unit capped the Cardinal's regular season with an exclamation point today. Visiting Oregon State (5-6, 4-4 Pac-10) managed no offensive touchdowns and just 293 yards as Stanford (9-3, 6-3) rolled to a 24-13 victory in front of a sold-out Stanford Stadium.
"When we started here four years ago, who'd have thought that our first class could win 10 games as seniors?" Jim Harbaugh said. "But 10 wins is our goal now, and it's still alive. These seniors deserved to go out like they did today, because they've completely changed the direction of our program."
Stanford's defense did the rest, not only holding the Beavers out of the end zone, but harrying the visitors into 3-of-14 third down conversions, four turnovers and a complete breakdown in confidence from head coach Mike Riley.
Oregon State did make it interesting, rallying from a 14-0 hole with thirteen straight second-half points on a Gabe Miller 22-yard fumble return off an Andrew Luck sack and cough up, and two Justin Kahut field goals. The second field goal, however, came on fourth and one at Stanford's seven with six minutes to play and the Beavers trailing 14-10, so Coach Mike Riley's decision to kick will earn him plenty of second-guessers in Corvallis.
Postgame, Riley said that, due to Stanford's D, he didn't trust his offense to get that yard, and with that trust went the Beavers' best shot at victory.
"Not my finest game, and not our offense's finest game," Riley said. "If I had it again, maybe I'd go for it, but honestly I didn't think we could get that yard on the ground. We ran over, around and through these guys last year, so give them a world of credit, because this year's defense looks nothing like it did last year."
After Oregon State's rally cut the Cardinal lead to 14-13 with 5:56 left, Luck rolled out to find Griff Whalen on a 32-yard catch and run down the right sideline. The big gain not only kept the clock moving, but put the Card in field position for a Nate Whitaker 24-yard field goal with 4:12 left, increasing Stanford's lead to 17-13.
Oregon State quickly went three-and-out on its next series, and then Stanford needed just one snap for the clinching strike to Griff Whalen.
"I know they're not brothers, but sometimes I feel like they're related," Luck said of Ryan and Griff Whalen. "Griff is just as strong, just as precise in his routes, just as good with his hands, just as good of a blocker. It's a nice change of pace from our deep threat in Chris to know that I've got those guys there."
Owen Marecic scored the first half's only touchdown on a two-yard dive with 4:28 left in the second, while Jeremy Stewart pushed Stanford's lead to 14-0 midway through the third on another two-yard run, his set up by Luck's 50-yard pass to Chris Owusu.
Stewart and Owusu both rode big games to the 1,000-yard mark on the season, while Luck finishes with 3,507 passing yards, third-best in the Pac-10, with a bowl game still pending.
"It's all about the team, but to have an 1,000-yard rusher, an 1,000-yard receiver and a quarterback who breaks all sorts of records all in the same year, that's pretty cool," Stewart said. "For us tailbacks, we didn't replace Toby, and we didn't try to. We just had a darn good season in our own right."
TD Stan: O. Marecic 2-yd run, 4:18 left. Stanford 7, Oregon State 0.
TD Stan: J. Stewart 2-yd run, 6:52 left. Stanford 14, Oregon State 0.
FG OSU: J. Kaput, 48-yd FG, 2:45 left. Stanford 14, Oregon State 3.
TD OSU: G. Miller 22-yd fumble return, 1:05 left. Stanford 14, Oregon State 10.
FG OSU: J. Kaput, 23-yd FG, 5:56 left. Stanford 14, Oregon State 13.
FG Stan: N. Whitaker, 24-yd FG, 4:12 left. Stanford 17, Oregon State 13.
TD Stan: G. Whalen 45-yd pass from A. Luck, 3:10 left. Stanford 24, OSU 13.
|Third down conversions||4-13||3-14|
Key Stanford player stats
QB Andrew Luck: 23-of-33 passing, 313 yards, 1 TD
WR Griff Whalen: 110 yards, 1 TD, 3 receptions
WR Chris Owusu: 109 yards, 4 receptions
SS Delano Howell: 9 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 PBU
LB Chike Amajoyi: 6 tackles, 1 sack, 1 FF, 1 PBU
CB Johnson Bademosi: 1 INT, 4 tackles, 1 TFL
@Stanford 35, Sacramento State 6
Stanford 22, @UCLA 16
Stanford 52, @Wake Forest 14
Stanford 30, @Notre Dame 27
@Oregon 16, Stanford 7
USC 31, @Stanford 7
@Stanford 36, Washington State 21
Stanford 21, @Washington 11
@Stanford 13, Arizona 3
@Arizona State 31, Stanford 28
Stanford 37, @Cal 10
@Stanford 24, Oregon State 13
Inspired by reading stories like this as a kid in the Michigan student newspaper on game days, the author hopes you enjoy reading this series every bit as much as he enjoys writing it. The 2010 season is being simulated on EA Sports NCAA 2011, with the author playing all Stanford games and simulating the rest in a dynasty mode.
All statistics, game summary, rankings, player news and out-of-town scores are reported unchanged from game simulation. (I.e. Don't call the author pessimistic if Stanford struggles. Call him bad at video games.)
Got any idea for future weeks, especially if they're funny? PM dannovi.
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 award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!