End of third quarter: Stanford 41, Colorado 7
The Cardinal continued to pull away from the Buffaloes in the third quarter, scoring twice on classic, grinding drives against a weak and battered Colorado defense. Meanwhile, the utter lack of a running game continued to hamper Colorado’s offense, as its running backs were consistently stuffed at the line. With just one quarter to go, it’s pretty safe to say that this game is basically over. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see the backups come in for Stanford in the fourth quarter.
Play of the quarter: On Stanford’s first drive of the half, the Card drove deep into Colorado territory, only to stall on the 13-yard line. With fourth down and two yards to go, head coach David Shaw elected to go for it, and running back Stepfan Taylor ran over one tackler to fight his way to the first-down marker. Stanford scored a touchdown on the next play to go up 34-7, largely ending any chance the Buffs had of mounting a comeback.
Luck continues stellar play: For the game, Andrew Luck is 23-of-29 for 315 yards, two touchdowns and one interception, which are insanely strong numbers, even by his standards. He has completed passes to eight different receivers; tight end Zach Ertz tops that list with four catches for 78 yards. Overall, the Stanford offense has 435 yards.
Players to watch: The Colorado running game has been shockingly poor through three quarters of play. Rodney Stewart has nine carries for just 19 yards, and the Buffaloes actually had negative total rushing yardage entering the third quarter. This is in no small part due to the continued strong play of Tarpley and Lancaster, who have done a great job of containment alongside outside linebackers Chase Thomas and Trent Murphy.
End of game. Final score: Stanford 48, Colorado 7
With the outcome clear to everyone before the end of the third quarter, the fourth quarter was a veritable snooze-fest. After Stanford scored yet another touchdown early in the fourth, head coach David Shaw pulled starting quarterback Andrew Luck in favor of backup Brett Nottingham. The stadium steadily emptied over the course of the period, and is now almost empty despite an announced crowd of over 50,000, the Cardinal’s second consecutive sellout.
Play of the quarter: On Colorado’s first play of the fourth quarter, safety Michael Thomas picked off Tyler Hansen. The play wasn’t notable for its impact on the game—which was beyond reach for the Buffaloes at that point—but more because it marked Stanford’s first defensive interception of the season. I was pretty surprised by that statistic given how strong the Cardinal defense has been over the season’s first give games.
Offense pours it on: Stanford’s offense posted ridiculous yardage numbers in this one: 553 total yards on the day, 161 of them rushing and 392 of them passing. Andrew Luck had one of his most productive games statistically: his 370-yard, three-TD performance represents the second-highest single game yardage total of his career, behind only a 423-yard 2009 outing against Arizona.
Colorado’s offensive woes continue: The aforementioned interception only added the cherry on top of an awful, awful day for quarterback Tyler Hansen and the Colorado offense. Hansen himself didn’t do too badly, going 15-of-29 for 202 yards, though no one would call that an All-America type of performance, either. What really hurt the Buffaloes was their inability to get anything going in the running game. Featured running back Rodney Stewart only managed 21 yards on 11 carries and impacted the game just once, on a 76-yard catch and run early in the game.
Poll impact: At worst, Stanford won’t move down in the polls after today’s game, but they likely won’t move up either, as no teams ahead of them were upset. Colorado, which was never going to be in any top-25 poll anyway, will likely find it very difficult to get the seven wins necessary for bowl eligibility this season.
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