The #22 Stanford Cardinal (5-2 / 4-1 PAC-12) routed the Oregon Ducks (4-3 / 1-3 PAC-12) 49-7 on The Farm this past Saturday, and their fourth straight win was an all-around dominant team performance. The forty-two point difference was the largest victory ever for Stanford in the historic series, which started all the way back in 1900.
Unfortunately for the Cardinal however, Bryce Love (17 rushes / 147 yards / 2 TD’s / 8.6 ypc), the consensus favorite to win the Heisman Trophy this year, was injured on his first rush of the 2nd half and never returned to the game. There may or may not be cause for concern going forward for Stanford, as Love did not leave for the locker room after he was checked out by the medical staff, but rather stood and showed support for his teammates from the sideline for the remainder of the 2nd half.
The question of whether or not he should have been put back in the game, was never a question at all for his head coach David Shaw. “As soon as he went down, with the score the way it was, I never really considered putting him back in. He already had played really well. He had already done what he does, which is break long runs.”
On that level, Love broke the 100-yard rushing mark in the first five minutes of the game, which included a 34-yard scamper on his first touch and a 67-yard touchdown run on the second drive. His mixture of pure speed and the ability to break tackles sets him apart from every other running back in college football this year—end of story.
Giving credit where credit is due, the Stanford offensive line unit is again showing they are one of the best in the country. With what seems to be an eight-man rotation, they change players week to week, but never lose their cohesiveness or physical approach.
Senior standout center Jesse Burkett (6’5” / 311 lbs.), the leader of this O-line unit and one of the best centers in the country, had this to say about blocking for a legitimate Heisman candidate that is a home-run threat on every play. “You love to see it every time, it never gets old. It’s so much fun playing in front of that guy.”
Senior captain Keller Chryst (15 for 21 passing / 181 yards / 3 TD’s / 1 int / 95.0 QBR) got the start at QB over sophomore sensation K.J. Costello (5 for 6 passing / 1 TD / 99.0 QBR) to the bewilderment of many Cardinal fans, but managed to prove again that David Shaw has a better feel for the pulse of his team than anyone else.
While Costello is certainly the future on The Farm and has played outstanding football up to this point, Chryst was still recovering from a major off-season knee surgery well in to the early portion of this season. He looked to finally be back at full speed in what was clearly his best outing of the season versus Oregon, and called a near-perfect game behind center. His lone interception should have been another touchdown pass in fact, but was clumsily knocked right into a defender’s hands by J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (6 receptions / 112 yards / 2 TD’s), who otherwise had a flawless game himself.
Next week #22 Stanford travels to Corvallis to play a beaten down Oregon State (1-6 / 0-4 PAC-12) team, which poses an interesting question. Knowing that the Cardinal can almost certainly win this game without Bryce Love, and with a huge matchup at #15 Washington State the following week, will the star tailback be given the week off to rest for the Cougars? And how will his Heisman contention, if at all, factor in to that decision?
Only time, and Coach Shaw, will tell.