Former Norco high school star Toby Gerhart ran for 200-yards and Chris
Owusu returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to lead Stanford to a
34-14 victory over 24th ranked Washington at Stanford Stadium in front of 36,930 fans.
In its 35-28 victory over Washington last season, Stanford was the more
physical of the two teams. The Tree rushed for 244 yards; the Dawgs only
managed 140 yards on the ground.
This time around the Tree ran for 321 yards; Washington (2-2, 1-1)
managed just 99 yards rushing.
In our forecast on Wednesday, we said that to win the game the Huskies
needed to control the ball; also, they needed to minimize errors, hold Gerhart to under 100 yards
keep Owusu from taking it to the house on special teams.
Mission unaccomplished. Stanford (3-1, 2-0) won time of possession,
33:32 to 26:28; the Dawgs committed three turnovers; Gerhart doubled our
bogey and, untouched, Owusu raced straight up the gut on his kickoff
return, his third kickoff return for a
touchdown this season.
Motoring their 2004 Gilby (*) -- the cash for clunkers program seemingly
a total failure for them -- the Huskies posted a miserly 14 points on the
board, seven of them by way of their defense when Justin Glenn ran an
errant lateral back 51 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at seven.
But that was short lived. One play from scrimmage later, Gerhart
exploded on a 60-yard run to give Stanford a 14-7 lead going into the
second quarter. That was followed by a 40-yard field goal by Nate
Whitaker, which gave the Cardinal a 10-point lead.
At 9:54 in the second quarter, Jake Locker hit Jermaine Kearse on
19-yard sideline pass, which brought the Dawgs within three, 17-14.
The Cardinal closed out the scoring in the first half by mounting a
14-play 68-yard drive that took seven minutes and eight seconds off the
Coach Jim Harbaugh's (pardon the pun in our headline) Cardinal added 10
points in the second half, while holding the feckless Huskies scoreless.
Without a running game to support him, Locker posted his worst passing
efficiency rating of the season, 101.11. He completed 16 of 31 passes
for 191 yards and the touchdown pass to Kearse. However, he threw two
ill-advised picks which questioned his judgment. When he's scrambling
for his life, Locker would be far better off running the ball rather
than throwing it into coverage.
"I made a couple of poor decisions and we just weren't able to execute
like we wanted to," Locker said.
"We were the favored team, we were playing at home. We expected to do
that and to win," Harbaugh said. "We wanted to do that decisively."
Gerhart noted that in their previous games this season, the Huskies were
weak against the run. "We felt we could do the same thing if we went
straight downhill on them. It worked out."
An 18-wheeler running downhill,
Gerhart appeared unstoppable at times, even with two defenders wrapped
around him. He bowled over some, deked a few and outran others,
exploiting the huge holes his offensive line blew open for him. Gerhart won the underlying battle
of Riverside County, besting former Redlands East Valley phenomenon
Chris Polk, who ran for 75 yards on 19 carries and caught 2 passes for
23 yards. Harbaugh used Gerhart to throw strikes, while Coach Steve
Sarkisian was throwing spares with Polk, who would have benefited from
some better blocking.
The Tree's special teams kept the Huskies in poor field position most of
the night. After Stanford's 7 kickoffs, the Dawgs average starting point
was from their own 21-yard line.
Of the Dawgs' four possessions in the second half, the farthest
penetration carried to the Stanford 33. On a fourth and five at the 33,
Locker was sacked for 7 yards.
The game ended mercifully with the Tree planted firmly inside the
Washington 10, following a 13 play, 62-yard drive, which took the final
8 minutes and 9 seconds off the clock.
Now for the good news. The Dawgs' road uniforms were a haberdasher's
delight, and, with a long of 60, Will Mahan averaged 50.3 yards on his 3
(*) - The 2004 Gilby had an EPA rating of 14 points per game, under
combined home and away driving, where EPA stands for Estimated Points