UCLA Victory Recap: Cardinal gets back on track by battering Bruins

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford was the dominant force against No. 9 UCLA on Saturday, and the Cardinal earned its way back into the top 10 as a result

Most impressive: Tyler Gaffney and Shayne Skov. A big win deserves multiple award winners, so I picked one guy from both sides of the ball. Gaffney - the man whose services were not used a week ago - pounded out 171 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries, while Skov notched ten tackles, including a sack. These two put their respective units on their backs and carried Stanford across the finish line. Two big-time players stepping up when their team needed it.

Biggest surprise: Stanford's d-line. This group was so thin just a week ago that they needed to move a tight end to their side of the ball, but they played some big-time football all day against the Bruins. Ben Gardner overcame another shoulder injury, Josh Mauro set the edge all day and David Parry handled continued to create double teams that opened up lanes for linebackers to make tackles. Altogether, their workmanlike group effort allowed the linebackers to rattle Brett Hundley and forced him to make bad plays and colossal mistakes.

Most consistent: Ty Montgomery. He registered just five catches for 50 yards, but those catches were often to extend drives and pick up first downs. Montgomery just keeps making excellent plays this season, and even though he had his lowest output of the year on Saturday, he still continues to do a superb job when he's called upon.

Most pleasantly surprising: Jordan Richards and Devon Cajuste. Other than Gaffney, Skov and Hogan, these guys had the biggest impact on the win, with Richards picking off Brett Hundley twice and Cajuste catching seven passes for 109 yards. Cajuste left the game with a leg injury, but it doesn't look like it's of the season-ending variety, which is a good thing for the future, because he emerged as one of Kevin Hogan's favorite options.

Most frustrating: David Shaw's decision to not go for it on fourth down with a little more than six minutes left in the fourth quarter. This was so, so dumb to me. Instead of trying to pick up a fourth-and-three from the UCLA 29-yard line, he opted to have backup kicker Conrad Ukropina attempt a 46-yard field goal, which he predictably missed. If you pick up the first down in that spot, the game may be over as is, but you at least give yourself a chance at a game-icing touchdown. If you don't get the first down, you're in the exact same place as you would be if your kicker misses the field goal. And not many backup kickers in college football can come in and nail a 46-yarder - otherwise they'd be starting kickers. I didn't disagree Shaw's play-calling most of the day, but this one sticks in my mind as a very poor decision from a coach who may be stuck in the NFL mindset - the mindset that says you can trust your kicker.

Quite frankly, those are the kind of things that make viewers think things like this:

Um, where'd you go? Award: Non-Gaffney running backs. Anthony Wilkerson had four carries for an awful -9 yards and he booted a red zone option play, Remound Wright lost four yards on his only carry, and Kelsey Young didn't make an impact (mostly due to one insane play from Anthony Barr, but still.) These guys simply didn't make a positive impact on Saturday, which is frustrating from a veteran stable of guys. However, their struggles may pave the way for the always-exciting Barry Sanders to get more touches, or for more runs from Kevin Hogan.

Beast Mode Award: Kodi Whitfield. I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

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