Cameron Scarlett

Associated Press

Bryce Love (mostly) quiet as No. 22 Stanford retains control of the Axe

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Baker Mayfield‘s antics in Lawrence provided Stanford’s Bryce Love a sliver of an opportunity to climb back inside the minds of Heisman voters.

Unfortunately for him, Love’s injured ankle didn’t allow him to take advantage of that opportunity.

Love struggled for much of the night, posting a quiet (by his standards) night of 14 carries for 101 yards and a touchdown, as No. 22 Stanford topped California 17-14 in Palo Alto. His final carry of the night came with 14:16 left in the fourth quarter.

That’s not to say Love was totally quiet, though. Love broke free for a 57-yard touchdown run in the third quarter, giving Stanford a 17-6 lead at the time.

With Love hobbled, Stanford handed the keys of the offense over to quarterback K.J. Costello and backup running back Cameron Scarlett. Costello hit 17-of-26 passes for 185 yards with a touchdown and an interception. His touchdown, a 17-yarder to Kaden Smith, broke a 3-3 tie with 8:17 left in the first half and put Stanford up for good.

Scarlett carried 14 times for 61 yards, which doesn’t seem like much until you realize he toted the ball on 11 consecutive plays, which allowed the Cardinal to expire all of Cal’s timeouts and kill the final 7:25 remaining in a 3-point game.

Cal had chances to win the game, though. Matt Anderson had a 47-yard field goal doink off the upright in the second quarter, and Ross Bowers drove Cal into Stanford territory at the midway point of the fourth quarter before he was intercepted by Stanford’s Ben Edwards. Bowers finished the night hitting 20-of-29 passes for 182 yards, and Patrick Laird led all runners with 20 carries for 153 yards and a touchdown.

The win gives Stanford eight straight wins in The Big Game, the longest winning streak by either side in a rivalry that dates back to 1892.

The win means Stanford (8-3, 7-2 Pac-12) can clinch the Pac-12 North if No. 14 Washington State beats No. 18 Washington in the Apple Cup on Saturday on Saturday. (Stanford completed Pac-12 play early in order to host No. 8 Notre Dame.) Cal (5-6, 2-6 Pac-12) must win at UCLA on Friday to reach a bowl game in head coach Justin Wilcox‘s first season.

Bryce Love will miss Stanford’s Thursday night game at Oregon State

Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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As Stanford prepared for a Thursday night game on the west coast at Oregon State, the status of Heisman Trophy candidate running back Bryce Love was said to be a game-time decision by Stanford this week. With the game a few hours away from kicking off, the decision has reportedly been made. Love will sit out the road game at Oregon State.

Love tweaked his ankle in a game two weeks ago against Oregon. Despite having a bye week to recover last week, the extra time off was apparently not enough to make sure Love, a pivotal piece of Stanford’s offense, was good to go. And with big games on the horizon against Washington State and Washington, it is clearly in the best interest for Stanford and their Pac-12 hopes to take every precaution necessary with Love, not to mention in his own best interest to ensure he is fully healed and ready.

With Love out of the mix, Stanford should be able to rely on junior Cameron Scarlett, who has 217 rushing yards and six touchdowns this season. Stanford’s running game may not be quite as explosive without Love, but it should be more that good enough to take care of the Pac-12’s 11th-ranked rushing defense. Oregon State is allowing 200.14 yards per game in the rushing department.

Love is the nation’s leading rusher with 1,387 yards and among the nation’s leaders with 11 rushing touchdowns. He entered the week second in the Heisman race, according to Bovada, behind Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.