Stanford (5-4 / 3-3 PAC 12) dropped another tough PAC-12 contest on Saturday, this time 27-23 at Washington (7-3 / 5-2 PAC 12). In defeat, the Cardinal have now lost four out of their last five games, and a once promising season has now dissolved in mediocrity. Football is an amazing game, considering that it is either beautiful or brutal, sometimes based on only one or two moments in a three hour scuffle.
In this particular battle, Huskies senior running back “For” Myles Gaskin (28 carries / 148 yards rushing / 1 TD / 5.3 YPC) returned from a two game absence to steal the show offensively. Gaskin helped to both control the clock, and to keep the Huskies in front of the chains for most of the evening.
The best football player in this matchup however was U Dub senior linebacker Ben Burr-Kirven (13 tackles / 2 PD / 1 TFL / 1 QBH), who has legitimately been the best player in every Huskies game I have seen this year. The young man is a definitive throwback, tough as nails, incredibly athletic, and he plays with a motor that never stops. As I have written before, if everyone on their squad had his heart, they could never lose.
Washington junior defensive back Taylor Rapp (6 tackles / 2 PD / 1 INT), who like his teammate BBK is a future high-end NFL draft pick, was also a playmaker in this one. More so, the talented Huskies secondary as a whole was able to come up with three critical interceptions in the game, which was the difference.
In regard to those three picks, and while Cardinal junior quarterback K.J. Costello (29 for 43 passing / 347 yards / 2 TD’s / 3 INT / 69.8 QBR) also made some great throws in the 2nd half, it was the big mistakes that outweighed his big plays in Seattle.
His counterpart, Washington senior QB Jake Browning (16 for 27 passing / 194 yards / 1 TD / 63.0 QBR), managed the game with poise for four quarters. With the strength of the Huskies defense behind him, Browning (0 turnovers vs. Stanford) plays with the knowledge that if he just doesn’t make a mistake they have a great chance to win.
For Stanford, senior linebacker Bobby Okereke (11 tackles / 1 QBH / 1 PD) fought with tremendous pride throughout, but it was simply not meant to be for The Card. Also of note for the D, junior linebacker Jordan Fox (9 tackles / 1 sack / 1 TFL / 1 QBH) likely had his best game of the season against the Huskies.
As has been the case the entire year, Stanford’s All-World running back Bryce Love (18 carries / 71 yards / 3.9 YPC / 1 TD) continued to play hurt, and continued to due himself no justice in the process. As I have also previously penned, Love’s toughness and dedication to his teammates can never be questioned, but the team needs to show him some ‘love’ by resting him until his body is healed properly. I somewhat understood letting him go when there was still a significant Bowl Game to play for, but at this point sitting him down for the remaining three is simply the right thing to do. I only write that because I appreciate and respect Bryce “Dr.” Love the person, even more than I do the player.
In my estimation, the last five weeks has been the toughest stretch of the David Shaw Era, and I am very curious as to how this team will respond in the final three games. While they are not able to play themselves back in to a position they desire, they can certainly show the pride and character that this program has become known for over the past decade.
In that capacity, Stanford (5-4) hopes to get right on The Farm this Saturday vs. Oregon State (2-7), while Washington (7-3) has a bye week before hosting the Beavers themselves on 11/17. No matter the results, both the Dawgs and Card have significantly underachieved this year, and they will both be looking for a more significant winter next season.
All that said, win or lose, Roll Red.