Over the last two years, Stanford were the best team in the Pac-12. But this year it’s different, and losing to Arizona State means it’s already three losses this season, and the hope of winning the conference and going to another Rose Bowl or making it to the College Football playoffs is ending.
Never say never, and it’s impossible to know what the future brings. Arizona won in Oregon but lost to USC. Arizona State beat USC but lost to UCLA, losing to both Oregon and Utah. Arizona State lost to the same UCLA quite badly. But when you pick up loss after loss, it’s getting more and more difficult to change things. Stanford have their annual big North division showdown against Oregon coming next. This year, maybe even a win in Eugene isn’t going to be enough.
Mike Bercovici is filling in for Taylor Kelly and although it hasn’t been completely smooth, it’s going in the right direction. He completed 23-of-33 passes for 245 yards and a touchdown, finding Jaelen Strong for a three-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-0 in the first quarter. D.J. Foster ran for a touchdown earlier, and the rest of the day was spent doing a very good job defensively holding the declining Stanford team from putting up big numbers and scoring field goals, as Zane Gonzalez finished with 4-of-5, including one from 47 yards.
As for Stanford? They fumbled the ball twice and gained just 288 total yards of offense. Kevin Hogan was held to under 50% completion ratio and their running game, previously their big strength under David Shaw, gained just 76 yards on 22 carries. Maybe it’s simply a transition from a superior class of players that played for the Cardinal over the last four or five seasons, but maybe it’s a system that needs a bit of tweaking.
Arizona State are one of four teams in the Pac-12 South with one loss, making it a very interesting situation in the division. They have to play Arizona when the season is over and also have Washington on the road and a ranked Utah team to think of (also Notre Dame, but that has only impact on the rankings). For Stanford, making up for the lost ground in their division hinges on beating Oregon on the road once again.
An offense that scores just 10 points and has been struggling in general moving the chains this season might find it difficult to keep up with Oregon at their current form, not to mention finding themselves out of the rankings, something that has rarely happened in recent years.