In the week leading up to last night's game, there was speculation that Arizona's Nick Foles might share time at quarterback with Matt Scott. Foles had missed the previous two games with a knee injury, while the dual-threat Scott looked impressive in guiding the Wildcats to consecutive wins over Washington and UCLA. Hours before kickoff, it was announced that Scott was nursing a wrist injury and would not play. Foles, it turned out, could have used the relief.
Stanford brought pressure from the edge and up the middle to prevent Foles, who had completed 75 percent of his passes before dislocating his knee cap against Washington State, from getting comfortable. He finished the game 28-for-48 for 248 yards, his worst game of the season.
Shayne Skov set the physical tone for Stanford's defense on Arizona's first possession. Foles threw a pass to Juron Criner, who was met immediately by Skov and lost control of the ball. Officials determined that the pass was incomplete after a replay review, but Skov's hit sent a message that would be redelivered by Stanford defenders throughout the night. Chase Thomas ended the Wildcats' first drive by flushing Foles out of the pocket and drawing an intentional grounding penalty that took Arizona out of field goal range.
Delano Howell led Stanford with 11 tackles and made a couple of vicious hits. Fellow safety Michael Thomas had a QB hurry on a perfectly timed blitz and a diving pass breakup, one of Stanford's seven in the game. Thomas Keiser had two tackles for loss, Sione Fua had a sack, and Richard Sherman had 10 tackles and an interception.
Arizona's receivers helped the Cardinal's cause with a handful of drops. Foles settled down somewhat in the second half and had success moving the ball in the hurry-up offense, but by that point the game was well in hand.
"I told the team that I thought it was our best game," Stanford head coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Offensively, defensively, special teams. I thought they played very smart, disciplined football."
Arizona head coach Mike Stoops would probably agree. "They out-executed us, outplayed us, and outcoached us," Stoops said. "We just got beat by a better team today."
Lynch's Speech: John Lynch was inducted into the Stanford Hall of Fame on Friday and offered some words of wisdom for the Cardinal before yesterday's game. According to Harbaugh, Lynch told the team, "We're not asking for 65 great plays. We're asking for one great play 65 times."
In the Polls: Stanford jumped to No. 7 and No. 9 in the AP and USA Today Coaches polls, respectively. The Cardinal should also find itself in the top 10 of the latest BCS Rankings, which will be announced later tonight.
The Crowd: There's been a lot of chatter about the empty seats at Stanford Stadium last night, and for good reason. It was noticeable, and it was embarrassing. I'll post more of my thoughts on the matter and an analysis of how it could affect Stanford's bowl destination tomorrow. In the meantime, check out the FanShot.