A Rose, by No Other Name

Kevin Hogan with a big 4th quarter, and a big game

"Brad Nessler is saying if you take away two long Stanford plays, this would be a different game. I say that if you take away two long ASU plays, it's 38-0 right now." After a goal-line stand, Stanford started the quarter with a five-play, 99-yard drive to clinch its fourth straight BCS berth, and their defense finished a second-half shutout to emphatically close out a Pac-12 championship.

We start the final quarter with Stanford on a drive from the shadow of their own goalposts. Stanford dives up the middle for minimal gain on second before Hogan fires deep down the left sideline on a third-down play action. But Stanford called a timeout before the snap so the play clock wouldn't expire, so after ESPN sells me some Corollas, we're back with the money down.

Hogan fires and Devon Cajuste extends for another beauty of a fingertip reception. That's his second highlight catch of the day, coming on the heels of a similar full-extension touchdown catch against Notre Dame. Rector gets a block.

Kyle Murphy gets called for a cut block, which wipes out a long Anthony Wilkerson run that dragged defenders down to the three. No matter, as Hogan comes out slinging and hits Ty Montgomery on a beautiful post route. Five plays, 99 yards, on the heels of a goal-line stand. This team is going to be Pac-12 Champions, and right now, it looks the part.

Stanford 38, Arizona State 14, 12:11 remaining

Brad Nessler is saying if you take away two long Stanford plays, this would be a different game. I say that if you take away two long ASU plays, it's 38-0 right now. Trent Murphy, meanwhile, says thank you very much and sacks Taylor Kelly on first down. Kelly scrambles for 11, but the down and distance read third and 18, so it's fourth down for the Devils. The drive ends fittingly, with a Stanford sack. Jarek Lancaster with get the honors, getting just enough of Kelly for the ASU quarterback to spin, stumble and fall to the turf. Stanford ball, and time to book some hotel rooms.

It's garbage time now, and the Cardinal are content to hand it off. ASU still can't definitively stop Stanford's ground game even though they know it's coming, as Kevin Hogan nearly has a first down on third and two. Instead, though, Chris Young rips out and recovers the ball for the game's first turnover, and ASU reassumes possession with about 8:30 left, down 38-14, and the ball at their 26.

On third and eight, Shayne Skov allows a completion, but tackles well short of the sticks, so it's fourth and three. Kelly overshoots a gimpy D.J. Foster and Stanford will take over, up 24 with 7:01 left.

Stanford is going to its first back-to-back Rose Bowls since 1971-'72, when the then-Indians defeated Michigan 13-12. The then-Indians also won the 1971 Rose Bowl, 27-17 over undefeated Ohio State. Depending on how the national picture shakes out, Stanford may be playing that same Buckeye program, again undefeated, for another shot at back-to-back Rose Bowl wins. Heady times.

Fourth and five after three runs up the middle, and Wilkerson nearly drives for the first down, but manages only four yards into an 11-man front. If they kept their foot on the pedal, the Cardinal could be pushing 50 now. 24-17 Ohio State in the third, and I think (hope?) there's a real shot that we see the undefeated Buckeyes in Pasadena.

Hemschoot sacks Taylor Kelly to keep the good times rolling, as Shayne Skov has his helmet off anis chattering away on the sideline.

Time for some stats. With the game all but over (3:20 and counting), and the competitive portion of this game long since past, Stanford has 509 yards to ASU's 305. Kevin Hogan is 12-of-18 for 277 yards, a touchdown and a fumble. Cajuste had two catches for 120 yards, including his 77-yard backbreaker, Ty Montgomery added 69 yards and a touchdown on five catches, and ran for a 22-yard score. Jordan Pratt was an unlikely first-half mainstay, and finishes with three catches for 56 yards.

Tyler Gaffney had 22 rushes for 133 yards and three touchdowns, nearly all of it early on, to allow the Card to open up the passing attack. D.J. Foster did finish with 142 yards and both Arizona State touchdowns in a losing effort. Taylor Kelly was 16-of-24 for 167 yards and a touchdown, but the Devils will finish with their only home loss of the season.

Neither team was especially efficient on third downs, with Stanford 4-of-11 and ASU 5-of-16. Stanford does see its streak of 36 straight games with a takeaway snapped, but they continue another streak in the process: four straight years in a BCS bowl.

Postgame, David Shaw repeats a theme he's been echoing in the past few weeks, namely that if defenses force us to be aggressive, we will do just that. He congratulates an ASU player on a good game, and even gets in a good recruiting plug for the program, complete with mention of AP classes and test retakes.

Play of the Quarter

Devon Cajuste's 77-yard catch and run, which Shaw told Holly Rowe postgame clinched the Cardinal's trip to the 100th Rose Bowl. Again, an incredible catch by Cajuste.

Player of the Quarter

His receivers made tough catches, but Kevin Hogan barred the door with two throws: to Cajuste for the 77-yarder, and then to Montgomery for the touchdown to cap the five-play drive. He finishes with 277 passing yards on just 18 attempts in, considering the stakes, his best road game of the season.

What It Means Moving Forward

Ohio State is up 24-20 heading into the fourth, so ask me when this one ends and, if OSU does win, when the BCS standings come out. But Stanford possibly played themselves into a marquee Rose Bowl with Alabama or undefeated Ohio State. Regardless of opponent, and no offense to Michigan State if that's how it shakes out, the Cardinal are going to their fourth straight BCS bowl, a school few have matched in this BCS era, and fewer yet would have predicted possible when Jim Harbaugh was first hired.

Speaking of Jim Harbaugh, can we now agree that this is David Shaw's team? If both men deserved credit for last year's Rose Bowl, and Andrew Luck deserved the credit for the success in the season prior, at some point, David Shaw is his own man. He's a two-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, and showed pretty clearly tonight that it should have been a threepeat. The Cardinal have stumbled at times, especially on the road, but this team has consistently played its best in the biggest games. Even the most jaded of fans know that this year's success is a credit to David Shaw and his staff.

Stanford 38, Arizona State 14, Final





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