It wasn’t pretty, but Stanford reminded everyone on Saturday why its defense was so highly thought of coming into the season.
The Cardinal held UCLA’s powerful offense to just 231 total yards and one touchdown and beat the No. 9 Bruins, 24-10, in Palo Alto.
This game was quintessential Stanford football. The Cardinal pounded it 50 times on the ground, held the ball for over 37 minutes and had efficient production in the passing game.
Suffice it to say that whatever defensive breakdowns Stanford showed last week in its upset loss to Utah were fixed against UCLA. The Bruins had just 83 rushing yards and their star quarterback, Brett Hundley, went 24 of 39 for 191 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. UCLA was averaging 547 yards and 46 points per game coming in.
While Stanford still looked lethargic on offense, quarterback Kevin Hogan did rebound from a rough outing against Utah, completing 18 of 25 passes for 227 yards and one touchdown (and one pick), while tailback Tyler Gaffney rushed for a career-high 177 yards on 36 carries. Fifteen of his carries came in the fourth quarter, as the Cardinal wore down UCLA’s defense.
UCLA should keep its head up, though. The Bruins played three freshmen on the offensive line at times and several freshman on defense and still were within a score of the much healthier, more experienced Cardinal for most of the game. This kind of games will pay dividends down the road.
As for the Cardinal, they still have a long way to go on offense to be considered a truly elite team, but they showed on Saturday that their defense is good enough to keep them in every game…and win most of them.