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Stanford Can’t Scoot By Utes

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Utah spoiled Stanford's perfect season and they enjoyed doing it. Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.
Utah spoiled Stanford's perfect season and they enjoyed doing it. Photo by George Frey/Getty Images.

Utah beat Stanford, 27-21, in a huge upset Saturday night.

Stanford Out Of The Hunt

Stanford lost to a two-loss Utah team. The chance of them getting into the BCS National Championship game is about as likely as me marrying Heidi Klum. Stanford joined the ranks of Georgia and Oklahoma — all three had their hopes dashed this weekend. Quarterback Kevin Hogan takes his first loss since his senior year in high school.

Stanford Passes On Fourth-And-Game

Shaw chose to pass on three of the last four plays. Odd to think a team that built its success on a steady running game did not lean on its bread and butter at the most important moment of the season. Hogan was not composed during the all-out blitz on fourth down and threw it away.

Stanford’s Defense Looks … Bad?

It sure did. In the fourth quarter, it buckled down and stopped Utah, but the touted defense needs to play more than one quarter.

I had been able to ignore big rushing numbers by Army and Washington. I had been able to ignore big passing numbers from Washington, Wazzou and ASU. But this performance was memorable in all the wrong ways. For the most part, the seven-interception man, Travis Wilson, had his way with Stanford's defense. He was 23-for-34 for 234 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. Stanford’s run defense was so porous that they solved a running back position battle. Bubba Poole beat them up all night long with 111 yards on 5.0 yards per carry.

While the Utes' stats do not jump off the page, the score does. Utah's offense outperformed Stanford's defense.

Penalties

Not only did Stanford have a surprising six penalties for 33 yards, but those penalties also came from team leaders like David Yankey, Shayne Skov and Ben Gardner. Three consecutive penalties stalled Stanford’s offense with nine minutes left in the first half. Similarly, defensive penalties allowed the Utes to keep a red zone drive alive.

I was left shaking my head. They know better.

Fumbles

Stanford turned the ball over as soon as they got momentum. The most notable turnover came after a potentially game-changing interception in the red zone by Joe Hemschoot. Ty Montgomery caught a screen and as he charged for more yards, the defenders punched at the ball. The other came on Nate Orchard sack of Hogan.

Stanford has had a few turnovers to speak of, but none of this magnitude. I think of Hogan's fumble at Army early in the game, allowing the Black Knights to make the score close. The offense is not potent enough to turn the ball over. The Cardinal always relied on consistency. They lacked it against Utah.

Bright Spot?

Ty Montgomery is unstoppable; he looks better every game. He gave Stanford great field position on special teams with yet another kickoff touchdown, then acted as a centerpiece of the offense. Last year, Hogan relied on Zach Ertz on third downs. Montgomery has provided that same safety net. Against Utah, he had six first downs, three of which came during the final drive. You would think they’d start double or triple-teaming him, but then again, Devon Cajuste and Kodi Whitfield would end up wide open. 

His 45-yard catch on a third-and-10 breathed life into Stanford at the end of the game. He looked like he was returning a kick. The screen pass provided him plenty of space. But Stanford could not complete the comeback. The Cardinal offense may look good when the ball is in his hands, but it was too late.