Tyler Gaffney shows us yet again that he's not just a star baseball player.
Let's just get down to it. This was probably Andrew Luck's best statistical game of the season, and his second best passing game in his career, only surpassed by '09's loss to Arizona in Tucson. How good was Luck?
- He went 26-33 (and one INT) for 370 yards passing
- He had three TDs
- He had 11 different receivers, with only one receiver with less than 11 yards
- He ran away from the Buffs blitzes (who led the conference in QB hits for loss) to end the game without a sack
- Despite being the leader of a balanced offense, he only needed two yards of rushing and left the running to eight different Backs
But Luck wasn't the only one who wowed Stanford fans Saturday night.
To begin the game, CU won the toss and elected to defer until the second half. After that, the first four minutes of the game were about as exciting as one could ask for between a top-10 ranked team and a 30-point underdog. In what head coach Jon Embree would call a "Sky Kick," Colorado kicker Will Oliver footed the ball low and to the left, surprising Stanford's special teams and enabling the Buffs to recover the onside kick. To say that the Colorado visitor's section was rocking would be putting it lightly.
With a short field, Stanford's defense was put to the test immediately. More than a few Stanford fans were again discouraged by what they saw out of the defense to start the game as Colorado again drove the field with relative ease. Hardly discouraged, though, Stanford finally held ground at their own 12, forcing CU into a FG attempt. If the Buffs scored, it would be the first points that Stanford had allowed in the first quarter of any game this season.
Then a strange thing happened. In an all-too-familiar scene for the Buffs, the special teams failed to properly block Stanford's Max Bergen, who broke through the line easily to block the FG attempt. To add insult to injury, Bergen ran back 88 yards for a Stanford touchdown.
From there, if you had seen any Stanford game before this night, you know what happened. The script went a little different this time, though, in that Stanford scored more points in the first half compared to the second, but many people thought Stanford played much better in the second half compared to the first. Between Luck sharing the ball with all his receivers, Michael Thomas coming away with Stanford's first interception(!) of the year, and the defense playing lights out for 45 minutes (and only allowing one score in the second quarter), the game went as many experts and fans had predicted. Unfortunately for Stanford football, despite some grumblings earlier in the week, the Cardinal maintained their ranking in the AP poll, but dropped in the Coaches' poll -- to a Wisconsin team who had a bye week and also picked up a first place vote. C'est la vie, I suppose, but troubling considering that BCS rankings come out next Sunday.
I do have to comment on the fans and the overall experience at Stanford Stadium yesterday. Despite being ranked 7th in the country, the sellout crowd still has trouble getting into their seats for opening kickoff. As a result, I'd guesstimate that a good 8-10,000 people missed the theatrics of those first four minutes of the game. By midway through the second quarter, the stadium was full, but it's unfortunate that old habits of waltzing into football games at convenient times die hard. It's also unfortunate that fans continued the time-tested tradition of walking out midway through the third quarter (or worse, at halftime) after it became apparent that Colorado was in over their heads. I can't blame the ticket office for not fulfilling its obligation this year (congrats, guys! I was wrong), but I guess I can now be my curmudgeon self with the people who actually use the tickets. Oh well, at least they show up now.
And major kudos to whoever came up with the Live Tree Race after the third quarter featuring the Trees from the past three seasons. That actually was surprisingly entertaining.
Stanford 48, Colorado 7
California 15, Oregon 43 -- There were some people who were expecting this game to be a little closer than it ended up being. LaMichael James lit up the Bears in eye-popping fashion and was named National Offensive Player of the Week. Predictably, Oregon fans booed to their hearts content at any Cal "injured" player. But in a debatable karmic retribution kind of way, James dislocated his elbow early in the fourth and is now out for an unknown amount of time.
ASU 35, Utah 14 -- ASU once again showed that they are the team to beat in the South as they took advantage of several untimely Utah turnovers, similar to Utah's game last week. Congratulations, Utah: you miss out on being the worst team in the conference this week only because Arizona was even more terrible.
Arizona 27, OSU 37 -- Wow, Beavers. You aren't as bad as everyone thought you might be. To Arizona: it's gonna be a loooong season, especially when you give up five consecutive unanswered scoring drives to what was a winless team.
WSU 25, UCLA 28 -- This game was heavily tilted towards the Cougars for the majority of the game. In fact, they led up until a few minutes left in the fourth. But yet again, they found a way to Coug' it up and lose to the Bruins in the closing minutes. Rick Neuhiesal managed to keep the Bruins in the race for the Pac-12 South with a backup QB to boot.