Stanford Football: Big Ten

Notebook: IMG 7v7 Championship 

June, 23, 2014
Jun 23
10:00
AM ET
BRADENTON, Fla. -- The IMG 7v7 National Championship held at IMG Academy over the weekend featured some of the top 7-on-7 teams from all over the country and even a few teams from Canada. The event, which included 12 prospects ranked in the top 50 of the ESPN 300, showcased some of the best talent you will find in a single tournament. Led by Alabama verbal commits Calvin Ridley and Shawn Burgess-Becker, the Florida Fire from South Florida defeated Tampa’s Unsigned Preps 20-18 in the championship game to take home the title.

Quarterbacks shine

There were several high-profile quarterbacks in attendance, and they lived up to the hype for the most part. Deondre Francois, who recently transferred to IMG Academy, made numerous impressive throws. The 6-foot-2, 188-pound signal-caller has a top three of Oregon, Auburn and Florida State and is planning to make his decision at the end of July.

Early Offer: Signing day is here 

February, 5, 2014
Feb 5
5:30
AM ET
The Early Offer is RecruitingNation's regular feature, giving you a daily dose of recruiting in the mornings. Today’s offerings: The Class of 2014 will go down as one of the wildest recruiting rides in recent memory. With so many players switching commitments and some elite prospects still left on the board, here are five things to keep an eye on heading into recruiting’s biggest day.

Does Bama have the best class ever?


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Stanford Cardinal (11-2) vs. Michigan State Spartans (12-1)

Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, Pasadena, Calif. (ESPN)


STANFORD CARDINAL BREAKDOWN
Before last season, Stanford had never been to bowl games in four consecutive seasons. Following its dominant effort against Arizona State in the Pac-12 championship, the Cardinal is not only on its way to a fifth straight bowl but a fourth straight BCS game and second straight Rose Bowl.

[+] EnlargeTyler Gaffney
Ezra Shaw/Getty ImagesThe downhill style of Tyler Gaffney and the Michigan State defense are on a collision course.
Waiting in Pasadena for the 100th edition of the “Granddaddy” will be Michigan State. Winners of nine straight, including a 34-24 win against previously undefeated Ohio State in the Big Ten championship, the Spartans haven’t been to the Rose Bowl since 1988, when they beat USC 20-17.

The first thing that jumps out about this matchup is the similar styles. As was the case in Stanford’s 20-14 win against Wisconsin last year, points could be at a premium. Both Stanford (18.6 ppg) and Michigan State (12.7) allow fewer than 20 points per game, and the Spartans lead the nation in total defense. Neither team has allowed more than 28 points in a game this year; both allowed 28 on two occasions.

Considering how well Arizona State had been playing, Stanford’s 38-14 win in the Pac-12 championship might have been its most complete win of the season. Just as it did at home against the Sun Devils early in the year, it jumped out to a big first-half lead. This time, however, Stanford extended the lead after halftime to win going away. Running back Tyler Gaffney earned the game’s MVP honors and now has 1,618 yards rushing and 20 touchdowns on the season.

The teams’ only common opponent is Notre Dame. The Irish handed Michigan State its only loss of the season, 17-13 on Sept. 21., but fell 27-20 at Stanford on Nov. 30. Stanford has won its last 10 games against ranked opponents, with the last loss coming two years ago in the Fiesta Bowl to Oklahoma State.

Stanford is 6-7 all time in the Rose Bowl, while Michigan State is 3-1. -- Kyle Bonagura

vs.

MICHIGAN STATE SPARTANS BREAKDOWN
As they’ve done after every win, the Michigan State Spartans held a Saturday night dance party in their locker room after upsetting Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game.

[+] EnlargeDarqueze Dennard
Mike Carter/USA TODAY SportsDarqueze Dennard leads Michigan State to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1987.
Noticeably absent from the hip-hop playlist: “Going back to Cali.” The Spartans are going back to California to play in the Rose Bowl for the first time since the 1987 season. After a disappointing 2012 campaign filled with close losses -- MSU dropped five Big Ten contests by a combined 13 points -- Mark Dantonio’s team made up the inches and became a complete team that won all nine of its Big Ten contests by 10 points or more this season.

“Pasadena, here we come,” said Spartans senior offensive tackle Fou Fonoti, a Lakewood, Calif., native. “I’ve got to show them In-N-Out [Burger], it’s a West Coast staple, Animal Style and all that. I’m excited.”

The nation’s No. 1 defense propelled Michigan State for most of the season and will be featured in Pasadena alongside Stanford’s equally hard-hitting crew. The 100th Rose Bowl Game presented by VIZIO boasts a traditional matchup of teams rooted in physical defense, the power run and solid special teams play.

Michigan State leads the nation in fewest yards allowed (248.2 ypg), rush yards allowed (80.8 ypg) and third-down conversions allowed (27.7 percent), and ranks second in pass efficiency defense and fourth in points allowed. Pat Narduzzi coordinates a unit featuring six All-Big Ten players, including an All-America candidate in senior cornerback Darqueze Dennard.

Elite defense is nothing new at MSU, but the team needed a complementary piece on offense and found one during Big Ten play. Sophomore quarterback Connor Cook came out of nowhere to earn second-team All-Big Ten honors, throw 20 touchdown passes against just five interceptions and win MVP honors in the Big Ten championship game. Cook and dynamic running back Jeremy Langford play behind a much-improved line that will be tested by Shayne Skov and Stanford. -- Adam Rittenberg

#CampusConnection: Primetime Live

December, 7, 2013
12/07/13
9:46
PM ET
The college football regular season has come down to this. Plenty is on the line tonight as the Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten hold their title games and we’ll be here with you every step of the way.

So head on over to Campus Connection at 7:45 ET and follow the action along with several of our on-site reporters, including Ted Miller (Pac-12), Andrea Adelson (ACC), David Hale (ACC), Brian Bennett (Big Ten) and Adam Rittenberg (Big Ten). Post your comments and questions and we’ll include as many of them as possible.

Video: Teams set to jump to elite level

March, 15, 2013
3/15/13
10:40
AM ET

Michele Steele and Ivan Maisel go over a trio of teams ready to make the jump to Alabama's heights.

Taylor gains tough yards in Rose Bowl win

January, 1, 2013
1/01/13
8:02
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AP Photo/David HoodSenior running back Stepfan Taylor and the Cardinal won their first Rose Bowl since 1972.
The Stanford Cardinal defeated the Wisconsin Badgers in the Rose Bowl Game Pres. by Vizio, their first Rose Bowl win since January 1, 1972. Below is a look at how the Cardinal won their eighth straight game and why the Badgers' loss continued a discouraging trend for the Big Ten:

• Stepfan Taylor gained 50 of his team-high 88 rush yards after first contact in the Rose Bowl, including 32 of his 39 yards in the fourth quarter. It was his most yards after contact in the fourth quarter of any game this season and thanks to his touchdown in the first quarter, Taylor scored on the ground in five of Stanford’s final six games of the season.

• Stanford allowed a season-high 119 yards on carries inside the tackles in the first half against Wisconsin (5.4 yds per rush), including 76 yards on inside runs by Montee Ball. The second half was a different story, however, as Wisconsin gained just 13 yards up the middle and averaged just 1.4 yards per carry including just eight yards by Ball.

• With the loss, Wisconsin became the third team all-time and the first since Michigan from 1976-78 to lose the Rose Bowl in three consecutive seasons. The Badgers’ run is part of a stretch that has seen the Big Ten lose nine of its last 10 Rose Bowl appearances. The only Big Ten team to win a Rose Bowl during that span was Ohio State on January 1, 2010 against Oregon.

• Stanford did much of its damage on first down against Wisconsin, gaining an average of 8.2 yards per play and scoring both of its touchdowns on first down in the game.

The 8.2 yards per play marked the second-highest first-down average for the Cardinal in a game this season (8.5 versus Arizona) and was the most allowed per play by Wisconsin in a game since it gave up 11.5 to Oregon in last season’s Rose Bowl.

• Ball’s performance was not forgotten in the defeat as he rushed for 100 yards for the 10th time this season (tied for second most in FBS) and scored the last of his FBS-record 83 career touchdowns.

The Rose Bowl marked Ball’s 26th-career game in which he rushed for at least 100 yards and scored a rushing touchdown, most in the FBS since his freshman year of 2009. With the score, Ball also became the first player in history to score a touchdown in three separate Rose Bowls.
Wisconsin Badgers (8-5) vs. Stanford Cardinal (11-2)

Jan. 1, 5 p.m. ET, Pasadena, Calif. (ESPN)

Wisconsin take from Big Ten blogger Brian Bennett: In its 98 previous installments, the Rose Bowl Game presented by Vizio has never had a team quite like Wisconsin. The Badgers will be the first five-loss team to play in the Grandaddy, and they finished only third in their own division with a 4-4 Big Ten record.

Yet this isn't some fluky, out-of-nowhere program, as Wisconsin is playing in its third straight Rose Bowl and its fifth since 1999. While this year's team underachieved by going 7-5, it lost three games in overtime and two others by a field goal. The Badgers saved their best game for last, blowing the doors off Nebraska with a 70-31 rout in the Big Ten championship game.

The Badgers might have gotten to that title game only because of the NCAA probation at Ohio State and Penn State, but they seized the opportunity by running for 539 yards against the Huskers. With an offensive line that has steadily improved after some early-season struggles, the most prolific scoring running back in FBS history in Montee Ball and an underrated defense, Wisconsin is as dangerous a five-loss team as you'll ever see.

Bret Bielema will seek to capture his first Rose Bowl after falling short each of the past two years, and Stanford -- which plays a similar rugged style -- could prove a more favorable matchup than TCU or Oregon were. The Badgers are already a unique kind of Rose Bowl team; they might just end up being the strangest Rose Bowl champs.




Stanford take by Pac-12 blogger Kevin Gemmell: Jim Harbaugh bolted for the San Francisco 49ers and Stanford was supposed to take a step back. It didn't. Andrew Luck graduated -- along with high draft picks Coby Fleener, David DeCastro and Jonathan Martin -- and Stanford was supposed to take a step back. It didn't.

Now, here the Cardinal are, back in a BCS bowl game for the third straight year and playing some of the best football in the country.

The Rose Bowl matchup with Wisconsin feels very much like a Big Ten-Big Ten showdown, because the Cardinal don't play stereotypical Pac-12 football. Stanford will pound away on the ground, take the occasional calculated risk downfield, and has no reservations sending its defense back on the field to get the ball back.

As has been the case the past few years, it starts with defense for the Cardinal -- who are first in the country in tackles for loss, first in the country in sacks and third nationally against the run. And those numbers include games against four of the top 27 rushing offenses in the country (Oregon, Arizona, UCLA and Notre Dame). Linebackers Trent Murphy and Chase Thomas, along with defensive end Ben Gardner, are among the best in the country at getting penetration and tackles for loss. Safety Ed Reynolds ranks in the top 10 nationally with six interceptions.

But the boost Stanford needed on offense came in November when head coach David Shaw (two-time Pac-12 coach of the year) swapped out redshirt freshman Kevin Hogan at quarterback for the struggling and inconsistent Josh Nunes. Since taking over, Hogan is 4-0 as a starter -- including wins at Oregon and at UCLA.

But Stanford's offense is built on the power running game of Stepfan Taylor. He's a three-time 1,000-yard rusher and has totaled 1,442 yards on the ground and 12 touchdowns. Look for him to continue to be a major contributor in the passing game as well. He has caught 38 balls for 270 yards and two scores.

The Cardinal are going to the postseason for the fourth consecutive year -- a first in school history. Stanford lost in the Sun Bowl in 2009, won the Orange Bowl in 2010 and fell in the Fiesta in 2011. This is Stanford's first appearance in the Rose Bowl since 1999.

GameDay Live: Week 10

November, 3, 2012
11/03/12
8:00
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 10.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 10 a.m. ET. See you there.

Now is the time to send us pictures of your tailgate celebrations @ESPNCFB. The best photos of your food, friends and family will be uploaded to our chat. Here are our previous tailgates.

Live chat: GameDay Friday

November, 2, 2012
11/02/12
6:16
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 10.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at noon ET. See you there.

Be sure to send us pictures of your tailgate celebrations @ESPNCFB. The best photos of your food, friends and family can be found in our GameDay Live chat Saturday morning. Here are our previous tailgates.

Live chat: GameDay Thursday

November, 1, 2012
11/01/12
8:00
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 10.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET. See you there.

Be sure to send us pictures of your tailgate celebrations @ESPNCFB. The best photos of your food, friends and family can be found in our GameDay Live chat Saturday morning. Here are our previous tailgates.

GameDay Live: Week 9

October, 27, 2012
10/27/12
5:00
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 9.

Now's the time to send us your best tailgate photos feature your food, family and friends. Tweet your pictures to @ESPNCFB or upload them directly to the chat and we'll post the best ones. Here are our previous tailgates.

Live chat: GameDay Friday

October, 26, 2012
10/26/12
10:00
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 9.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at noon ET.

Don't forget to send us your best tailgate pictures of your food, friends and family all week long @ESPNCFB and we'll publish the best photos in our GameDay Live chat Saturday morning. Here are our previous tailgates.

Live chat: GameDay Thursday

October, 25, 2012
10/25/12
11:07
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 9.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 1 p.m. ET.

Don't forget to send us your best tailgate pictures of your food, friends and family all week long @ESPNCFB and we'll publish the best photos in our GameDay Live chat Saturday morning. Here are our previous tailgates.

GameDay Live: Week 8

October, 20, 2012
10/20/12
5:20
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 8.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at 10 a.m. ET.

Now's the time to send us your best tailgate pictures of your food, friends and family @ESPNCFB or upload them directly to the chat. It's time to represent for your school. Here are our previous tailgates.

Live chat: GameDay Friday

October, 19, 2012
10/19/12
7:01
AM ET
Join our ESPN.com college football experts as they preview Week 8.

Contribute your thoughts and questions beginning at noon ET.

Don't forget to send us your best tailgate pictures of your food, friends and family all week long @ESPNCFB and get your photos in our GameDay Live chat Saturday morning. Here are our previous tailgates.

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