For the first 10 hours or so, Week 9 in college football was a rather pedestrian, mundane affair. And then Miami-Duke happened, followed quickly by Notre Dame-Temple. And to close out the day? We got #Pac12AfterDark.
Stanford came into Saturday night’s game against Washington State as the only unbeaten Pac-12 team in conference play and was viewed as potentially the league’s lone playoff hope. Exiting it, and by the skin of its teeth, the No. 8 Cardinal maintained both as a late field goal lifted them to a 30-28 win in Pullman.
The win pushes Stanford’s conference mark to 6-0 and gives them a game-and-a-half cushion over Wazzu and Oregon, both of which are 3-2. All Stanford would need to do divisionally is win two of their next three league games, which will come against 4-5 Colorado, 5-3 Oregon and 5-3 Cal. The only road trip in that group will come against the Buffs.
Were it not for Mike Leach stubbornly staying in full-blown Pirate mode, though, the Cardinal may have exited with the Cougars wresting divisional control away from their counterparts.
A Luke Falk touchdown pass with 7:56 remaining gave Wazzu a 28-27 lead. On Stanford’s subsequent possession, they were forced to punt it back to Wazzu after running 2:48 off the clock. Needing simply to run as much of the 4:54 that was remaining, the Cougars attempted to do just that as they ran on the first two plays of the drive. A Cardinal penalty on a third-and-three gave the Cougars a first down. The next play was an incompletion that stopped the clock; the next play was another pass that was… intercepted (#facepalm) at the WSU 45-yard line and returned to the 39.
Five plays and 37 yards later, a Conrad Ukropina field goal gave the Cardinal a 30-28 lead with just 1:54 left on the clock. That proved to be more than enough time for Wazzu to get in field-goal range, which they did by driving 48 yards down to the Stanford 27-yard line.
However, Erik Powell, who had already made five field goals on the night, saw his 43-yard attempt sail wide to the right with no time left on the clock to seal Wazzu’s fate.
Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan had more rushing yards (112) than passing yards (86), and scored two of his team’s three rushing touchdowns. Falk passed for 354 yards in the loss, his seventh consecutive game of 300-plus yards.