Despite another poor first half, Stanford cruised to another road win, beating Oregon State 38-13. Here’s Stat on the Back’s take on the final regular-season road game of the season.
Number of the game: 9-0
What it means: The Cardinal didn’t win any football beauty pageants on Saturday, but after nine games, Stanford is still undefeated. And that’s all that matters.
Why it matters: Stanford had nothing to gain and everything to lose on Saturday, and the team showed it for the first 40 minutes of the game. At the end of the day, though, the Cardinal got things together in the final third of the game for an easy victory over an outmatched team.
Every game is important and no opponent can be taken lightly, but the truth is that Stanford just needed to get through this week without an epic collapse in order to remain undefeated with Oregon coming to town. And that’s just what the Cardinal did.
Other notable numbers:
81: Besides staying undefeated, the biggest story of the game was yet another scary head injury for Chris Owusu. Seeing No. 81 crumpled on the ground with trainers around him seems to be a weekly occurrence these days, and Saturday’s injury may have been the worst of them all. Owusu looked to be completely unconscious as he lay motionless for quite some time. Whenever an ambulance needs to be brought on the field, you know things are serious (unless you are an Oregon State fan, of course, but we’ll get to that momentarily).
Luckily, Owusu was able to give a thumbs-up while being loaded into the ambulance, and he was able to join his team after the game in the locker room with full use of his extremities. Head coach David Shaw said Owusu will be all right and that the team will be cautious with him, but with three concussions in the last 13 months and numerous other tough hits in that same time span, Owusu likely will miss another chunk of time. With this being his senior year and with the nature of concussions being so delicate, it is possible that we’ve seen the last of Chris Owusu on a football field. However, recovery from concussions is extremely unpredictable, so his future remains to be seen.
Seeing Owusu down made me (and any viewer with an ounce of empathy) sad, but seeing the response of Oregon State fans made me mad. It was homecoming weekend, and the fans were fired up to play a top-five team, but that doesn’t excuse the loud chorus of boos raining down on Reser Stadium while Owusu lay motionless. I know the fans were disputing the penalty call, but the fact is that if a player is as seriously injured as Owusu appeared to be, you throw away all thoughts of penalties for a few minutes until you are sure he is all right. That’s Fandom 101.
Instead, according to Chase Thomas, the fans were doing more than just booing. “The fans were kind of rude about it and making fun of him,” Thomas said. “That lit a fire. They were yelling things that shouldn’t be said when someone is hurt on the ground like that. We took it personally.”
There’s no place for that kind of behavior, and I can only hope the majority of Beaver fans acted with more class.
1: Saying “Stanford has three of the best tight ends in the country on the field, all at the same time!” has a nice ring to it. Saying “Stanford has three of the best tight ends in the country, and only one can play!” is a little less satisfying. With Zach Ertz sidelined due to a knee injury, it appeared to be time for just the Dos Amigos of Coby Fleener and Levine Toilolo. However, on Stanford’s first scoring play of the game, Toilolo took a knock to his head and had to miss the rest of the game. Without him, Stanford was forced to use its fullbacks more to cope with having just one deadly tight end on the field. The bad news is that Ertz is expected to miss at least one more game, but on the bright side, Toilolo did not get a concussion and is expected to play on Saturday.
0: Speaking of the first scoring play of the game, it came in the second quarter. This was the first time in 28 games that Stanford was held scoreless in the first quarter. The last team that stopped the Cardinal from scoring in the first frame? Oregon State, of course, in Stanford’s last trip to Corvallis two years ago.
300: For the second time in three weeks, the Stanford running game exploded with 300 rushing yards. Yes, it was against a bad team. But there aren’t many teams in the nation that can put up 300, whether or not they have a great quarterback. That’s just what makes Stanford so dangerous: one week after Luck threw for 330, the Cardinal ran for 300.
48: Stanford racked up those 300 rushing yards on 48 carries. To put this into perspective, Oregon State ran just 47 offensive plays and gained just 285 total yards. Who needs a passing game?
76: Cardinal fans would have liked to see that passing game in the first half, when Luck threw for just 76 yards. He completed just 11 of 19 passes and threw one of the worst interceptions he’s thrown in his three years at Stanford. The passing game was completely out of sync, which is why the run game was so crucial. In the second half, Luck turned it on, completing nine of his 11 attempts for 130 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.
4: Despite Alabama’s home loss to LSU, the Crimson Tide remained ahead of Stanford in the latest BCS standings, keeping the Cardinal at No. 4. Before you go burning down the BCS headquarters (hint: there’s no such place), fear not. Stanford is in the same position as last week. If the Cardinal finishes undefeated and Oklahoma State loses, Stanford will vault over Alabama into the all-important No. 2 spot.
17: An ugly win, yes, but the victory over Oregon State was the Cardinal’s 17th straight. Next up: the biggest test of all, the Oregon Ducks. Check out The Daily’s coverage of Stanford-Oregon this week, including Stat on the Back’s preview of the Pac-12 Game of the Year.
Jacob Jaffe is looking for a special someone to share his tent ahead of ESPN College GameDay’s arrival on campus this weekend. If you are a special someone, and your name is Erin Andrews, make his day with an email to jwjaffe “at” stanford.edu or follow him on Twitter @Jacob_Jaffe.