Bryce Love reeled off a 68-yard 4th quarter touchdown run on Saturday in Utah that gave #25 Stanford (4-2) its third win in a row, and helped the Cardinal regain their Top-25 ranking.
Love is the nation’s leading rusher with 1,240 yards on the season, and so you understand just how good he has been, no other player has yet to hit the 1,000 yard mark. Furthermore, he has a touchdown run of 50+ yards in 7 straight games, a feat that has not been accomplished in over twenty years.
However, outside of the huge 4th quarter TD run, #23 Utah (4-1) did a great job of containing the star back for most of the contest. Love, now the clear frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy, summed up the game perfectly when asked about his team’s hard-fought win.
“We’re really big on grinding it out for however long it takes, and we just need one opportunity to make something happen,” Love said. “Sometimes, especially against a good team like Utah, you’re going to have to get nitty and gritty and really fight.”
Cardinal Head Coach David Shaw, like his star tailback, also had nothing but respect for the Utes’ defensive unit after the game. “You look at their personnel and it’s like an NFL defense. Big guys all over the place. They can all hit. They can all tackle.”
Likewise, the Stanford defense showed some physicality of their own on Saturday. Senior captain and All-American candidate Harrison Phillips (6 tackles / 1 tfl / 2 QB hurries) again battled bravely at the line of scrimmage, winning against the double- and occasional triple-teams that he drew. On the season, Phillips leads the team in tackles (45) from the nose tackle position, which is absolutely crazy. Usually a linebacker takes that title.
Senior linebackers Peter Kalambayi (4 tackles / 1 sack / 1 tfl), Bobby Okereke (5 tackles / 1 sack / 1 tfl), and Jordan Perez (6 tackles / 1 QB hurry) all made an impact on the edge for Stanford. In the back end, fellow All-American candidates safety Justin Reid (7 tackles / 1 int / 1 tfl) and cornerback Quenton Meeks (4 tackles / 1 int / 1 pd) both had big 4th quarter interceptions that helped to seal the victory.
By far the most perplexing issue for Stanford fans was the reemergence of senior quarterback Keller Chryst, who had seemingly lost his role to the sophomore sensation K.J. Costello. My original title for this article, while in poor form, was going to be ‘Chryst Risen?’
While both QBs played significant minutes in the game, Chryst (7 for 14 passing / 106 yards / 1 rushing TD / 62.2 QBR) seemed to have the lead role throughout. In spite of the road win over a ranked division foe, he did little to ensure he locked down that starter status going forward.
Costello (6 for 10 passing / 82 yards / 79.3 QBR), who most Cardinal fans feel has clearly earned the starting job over the past few weeks, avoided any controversial statements after the game when asked about the Cardinal quarterback shuffling. “I feel like I came in and did my job, and that Keller did his as well.”
Whoever lines up behind center for #25 Stanford next Saturday will face a banged-up Oregon team on The Farm, while #23 Utah heads to The Coliseum for a PAC-12 South showdown with #13 USC.