Style points are not a prerequisite for a national championship. Good thing. There weren’t too many awarded in Stanford’s 38-13 win over Oregon State Saturday night. Then again, it wasn’t exactly a game that lent itself to offensive panache with the chilly air and steady rain. After Stanford sloshed its way through a scoreless first quarter, the Cardinal offense picked up the pace -- particularly in the second half. So before we look ahead to Saturday’s showdown with Oregon, let’s squint and take a look back at the highlights of Saturday night.
Highlight reel: Jarek Lancaster’s sack (with the assist from Trent Murphy) on the first offensive snap from Oregon State was fantastic. It was a nice inside linebacker blitz that went unblocked and Lancaster was in Sean Mannion’s face before he knew what to do. Someone please explain to me why this wasn’t a safety?
Best play: The 33-yard reverse to wide receiver Chris Owusu was a fantastic example of what kind of speed he has when the Cardinal design plays for him. His status for the Oregon game remains unknown after he suffered his second concussion in four games – but it was a nice job staying on his feet and getting extra yards. Big props to Jeremy Stewart and Ty Montgomery for their downfield blocking and not giving up on the play.
Who’s hot: Running back Stepfan Taylor was a calming presence when the passing game wasn’t clicking early. He rushed for 95 yards on 13 carries for an outstanding 7.3 yards per. He also showed off his hands with a 27-yard touchdown reception. Whether the offense is up or down, Taylor is always steady.
Who’s not: Quarterback Andrew Luck (pause for gasping sound). This was his least polished performance of the season and despite the three touchdowns, there were several bad decisions, including a first-quarter interception. He has to – and will – play better against Oregon.
The good: The Cardinal dug deep into their depth chart to pull out playmakers for this game because of all of the injuries. There was a drop-off in production at some positions, but they still managed to get the job done.
The bad: Anytime a player leaves the field in an ambulance, it is cause for prayer and reflection.