The Stanford (7-4 / 5-3 PAC 12) offense literally did everything they could to beat a resurgent UCLA (3-9 / 3-6 PAC 12) squad on Saturday in Pasadena, while the Cardinal defense at times seemed indifferent to victory. However, giving credit where credit is due, UCLA head coach Chip Kelly has his offensive machine back in tact.
For the Stanford O though, it was junior quarterback K.J. Costello (23 for 37 passing / 344 yards / 5 TD’s / 1 INT / 90.9 QBR) that stepped up, in what was essentially a home game for the Southern California native. In a battle that The Card seemed to have won at three different points, it was Costello’s arm that put the Bruins away each time they fought back.
In that regard, a major party-plus for Costello this week was having big-play-threat J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (7 receptions / 106 yards / 3 TD’s / 15.1 YPR) back in the lineup, after a couple weeks on the shelf. Stanford’s senior wide receiver tied a school record in this contest for touchdown catches in a season at 14 (James Lofton - ’78), and looks to break that mark against arch-rival CAL in the Big Game this coming weekend. For the official record, I like his chances.
Cardinal senior WR Trenton Irwin (7 receptions / 103 yards / 1 TD / 14.7 YPR) was also a key factor in the air attack, and was as always a reliable outlet for Costello at all ranges. Also of note amongst the receiving corp, sophomore wideout Osiris St. Brown (1 reception / 52 yards / 1 TD / 52.0 YPR) made his one catch of the game count, hauling in an incredible 52-yard touchdown pass in the heart of the 4th quarter.
On the ground, Stanford All-World running back Bryce Love (22 carries / 85 yards / 1 TD / 3.9 YPC) looked to remain at around 90% healthy, but his offensive line remained to have their own struggles in run blocking packages.
Fellow Cardinal RB and jack-of-all-trades senior Cameron Scarlett (4 carries / 33 yards / 8.3 YPC / 1 kick return for 74 yards / 107 all-purpose yards) did a little bit of everything for his side, and routinely finds ways to impact games on both O and special teams.
The UCLA offense was also able to march at will for the most part of this game, but Stanford senior linebackers Sean Barton (8 tackles / 1 sack / 1 TFL / 1 PD) and Bobby Okereke (7 tackles / 1 QBH / 1 PD) made a few solid stops along the way that became the difference.
In the Cardinal defensive backfield, the same could be said for senior Frank Buncom (5 tackles / 1 sack / 1 TFL / 1 PD), junior Malik Antoine (5 tackles / 2 TFL / 1 sack / 1 PD), and sophomore Paulson Adebo (4 tackles / 1 INT / 1 PD).
Making things difficult for The Card secondary was UCLA senior quarterback Wilton Speight (29 for 47 passing / 466 yards / 1 rushing TD / 1 INT / 55.0), who at times looked like the second coming of Troy Aikman in this one, and at other times looked like Wilton Speight.
On the turf, Stanford did a great job of keying the Bruins star running back, junior Joshua Kelley (18 carries / 55 yards / 2 TD’s / 3.1 YPC). Though he did manage to punch in two scores from close range, he never broke a home-run for distance as he has all year.
Up next for Stanford (7-4) is the 121st Big Game vs. CAL (7-4) this Saturday in Berkeley, which was rescheduled from November 17th due to the wildfires in Northern California. Separately, while this loss was the last contest of the year for UCLA, I predict they will be contending for the PAC-12 South Title as early as next year.
Going forward for the BIG GAME this week, I must abandon all professionalism and write ever so simply, BEAT CAL.