The Pac-12’s chances of participating in the College Football Playoff were on life support heading into a huge weekend of action.
Unfortunately for Larry Scott and company on the West Coast, those postseason dreams didn’t even make it to Saturday. Stanford once again threw a wrench into the league’s playoff hopes and did so in impressive fashion to upset No. 9 Washington 30-22 on Friday night behind the team’s big hitters on both sides of the ball.
Running back Bryce Love was not surprisingly the focal point of the Cardinal offense, looking solid despite still dealing with some issues from a bum ankle that was hurting coming into the game and was re-injured in second quarter. The Heisman candidate battled through all that though, not ripping off his typical huge runs but grinding away at one of the best defenses in the country to the tune of 160 yards and three touchdowns.
Stanford didn’t just rely on Love to be the only way to move the ball though, as quarterback K.J. Costello had his best game of the season on the way to 211 yards and several huge throws down the field to loosen up the box for his tailback. Most of those throws went to his biggest target in receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who didn’t find the end zone but did rack up five catches for 130 yards in the upset.
The Huskies had been holding onto the slim hopes of sneaking back into the College Football Playoff again this season but never seemed to put a consistent effort on the field on both sides of the ball after jumping out to an early lead. Running back Myles Gaskin was nearly the equal of Love, managing 120 yards and three scores on the ground to help his team control some of the clock down on the Farm. Backfield-mate Jake Browning started the game with 10 straight completions but was lackluster in the second half — including an awful sack in the fourth quarter that later setup a Stanford touchdown.
Gaskin also added a fumble to Chris Petersen’s issues in the loss and Washington recorded an uncharacteristic seven penalties for 73 yards to set them back even further as their Pac-12 title hopes went almost completely out the window.
The victory allowed Stanford head coach David Shaw to tie Hall of Famer Glenn ‘Pop’ Warner (71) for most wins in school history and keep his team’s hopes for yet another Pac-12 title alive by the thinnest of margins. The Cardinal moved a half game up in the North division with only Bay Area rival Cal remaining on the conference slate (Notre Dame also comes to town) and will need these same Huskies to beat their in-state rival Washington State in the Apple Cup in order to make it to Santa Clara.