Ty Montgomery was a huge part of Stanford's succes
We finish our journey back through the top ten 2013 moments that punched Stanford's ticket to the 100th Rose Bowl. Part One, linked below, featured the first five plays on our countdown. Here's Part Two, which takes us all the way down to No. 1.
Stanford fans, click here for Part One.
5. First Punch: Gaffney's 69-yard touchdown (at Arizona State)
Stanford's offensive struggles on the road entering the Pac-12
Championship Game were well
documented. To put it bluntly, the Cardinal attack had been
lousy away from Stanford Stadium since the beginning of October. A
marked improvement in performance would be necessary if the Farm
Boys were to extend their BCS bowl streak to four years.
The first play from scrimmage in Tempe, a two-yard loss, was not
promising: Kevin Hogan and Tyler Gaffney both stumbled on the
handoff before Cam Fleming jumped early to push the Cardinal back
another five yards. Suddenly, it was second down and 17, and the Sun
Devil Stadium crowd was pulsating with energy. For many observers,
it might have been a "here we go again" moment, until
Gaffney got the ball and
took off behind the left side of his offensive line. David Yankey,
Andrus Peat, and Kyle Murphy formed a gigantic wall moving toward
the sideline. No. 25 shot out of a canon around the corner. He raced
69 yards, untouched, into the end zone. The Arizona State crowd,
smelling blood just seconds earlier, was suddenly silent. In a play
that was symbolic of a reversal in road offensive fortune, Stanford
had struck first in enemy territory.
4. Not On My Goal Line, Pt. 1: Skov's Strip (vs. Oregon)
Two of the top four plays in Stanford's 2013 season are goal-line stands. That's a testament to a rugged Cardinal defense that
has been the team's bedrock ever since Andrew Luck's departure to
the NFL. It's also a testament to Shayne Skov, who was vital to both
of these definitive defensive moments.
The first moment will be remembered for Skov's ferocious tackle in the
open field. With Stanford leading Oregon 14-0 in the second quarter,
De'Anthony Thomas caught a short pass with room to work near the
goal line. Safety Jordan Richards was able to alter Thomas'
direction. As a result, Skov would have a chance to make a play, and
he did just that in violent fashion just short of the goal line.
True to form, though, Skov did more than just tackle Thomas: He
ripped the ball out during the process, denying the Ducks points and
securing possession for Stanford in the process.
It was a play that embodied the versatile skill set Skov has
embodied in his college career: mental awareness, physical
toughness, quickness, and strength. It also changed the complexion
of the contest. Before the strip, Oregon was a yard away from making
it a one-score game. Instead, they found themselves trailing by
three possessions after Stanford's next drive.
3. Ty Montgomery Takeover (vs. Washington)
Offensively, Washington outgained Stanford by over 210 yards. The Huskies outplayed the Cardinal on the defensive side of the
ball, too. Had it not been for Ty Montgomery's spectacular
contributions, Steve Sarkisian's squad might have blown out the Farm
There would be no Washington win on October 5, though. Montgomery
did enough to turn that night into a thrilling Stanford win.
He first returned the opening kickoff 99 yards for a touchdown. He
later hauled in a crucial 39-yard touchdown bomb from Kevin Hogan to
send the Cardinal to halftime leading by 10 points. When the Huskies
crept to within three in the second half, it was Montgomery who came
to the rescue again: His 68-yard kickoff return set the table for
another Stanford insurance touchdown. By the time it was all said
and done, No. 7 had racked up 204 kick return yards, a program
record. He was the NCAA's kickoff return leader from that point
Of course, the ever-humble Montgomery will always remind the media
that his blockers and coach Pete Alamar's special teams coordination
had everything to do with his success. The observation here: His
speed had a lot to do with it, too.
2. Kodi Whitfield's Sensational Catch (vs. UCLA)
On October 19, Stanford desperately needed an offensive spark.
Their attack was still reeling after a devastating loss to Utah. A
first half of missed opportunities against UCLA meant that the score
was tied 3-3 midway through the third quarter. The Cardinal needed
something special to break out of the doldrums, and Kodi Whitfield
provided just that.
On second and 18, Hogan rifled a pass over the middle of the field
toward the end zone. Whitfield, in heavy traffic, hauled in a
spectacular backhanded catch with only arm. The officials failed to
call pass interference on the play, but it didn't matter: Stanford
had finally found the end zone thanks to one of the most spectacular
receptions in program history.
1. Not On My Goal Line, Pt. 2: Skov, Hoffpauir Build a Wall
Arizona State was threatening to bite into the Cardinal's 31-14
lead toward the end of the third quarter. A productive drive had
taken them all the way to Stanford's one yard line. The home team
was tantalizingly close to making the Pac-12 Championship a 10-point
game entering the final quarter.
Some have jokingly called Stanford's style "Soviet-style football."
Fittingly then, in perhaps the definitive moment of this 2013 season,
the Farm Boys built an Iron Curtain at the goal line in Tempe.
Shayne Skov and Arizona native Zach Hoffpauir made epic stops on
third and fourth down. No. 11 stuffed ASU's third down quarterback
sneak attempt with a dive over the Sun Devils' offensive line. It
wasn't the first time he had perfectly timed an opponents' snap
count, and he explained his thinking afterward:
kind of get it over a period of time. You get a feel for certain
situations: How much time left on the play clock, the
quarterback's physical presence and whether or not he is
anticipating the snap, motions. There are different things you
take into account as a whole. It's an educated guess... I can give
you a nice estimation of what I assume [the snap count] will be...
On third and
fourth down [and goal], there was no risk, high reward. A penalty
[would have been] a few inches. We don't have anything to lose at
that point. I read his lips as the snap was coming... It's a
hitting percentage thing."
Skov hit a home run on that play, and Stanford will now play in the Rose Bowl because of it.
David Lombardi is the Stanford
Insider for The Bootleg. Check him out at www.davidlombardisports.com
and follow him on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.
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