Cal may be heading in a positive direction and they may have beaten Washington and USC this season, but getting over the Stanford hurdle is still too tough a task for the Golden Bears at this time. Stanford once again topped Cal in The Big Game, winning this year’s delayed edition of the game by a score of 23-13.
Stanford nearly shutout Cal in the second half and closed out the game with 10 points in the fourth quarter. Cal scored a late touchdown with the game essentially decided in every facet except for the final score with 10 seconds remaining. Bryce Love, perhaps playing in his final game for Stanford, carried the football 22 times for 74 yards. Cameron Scarlett scored a touchdown on the ground in the fourth quarter, and quarterback K.J. Costello completed 18 of 29 passes for 237 yards and a touchdown. JJ Arcega-Whiteside led all players with 109 receiving yards on five receptions. Turnovers were crucial in the game, with Cal turning the football over three times to just one turnover by Stanford.
Stanford’s current nine-game winning streak in the rivalry remains the longest winning streak for either team in the series. Cal’s last win came in 2009 with a team that included Shane Vereen topped a Cardinal team with Andrew Luck and Toby Gerhart. Jim Harbaugh was the head coach of the Cardinal. Harbaugh and Luck would get the Stanford winning streak against Cal started up the next season, and David Shaw has continued to keep Stanford on top of the classic rivalry. Shaw is 8-0 in the series.
Both Stanford and Cal should be heading to the postseason to play in a bowl game, so the season is not over yet for either program. Stanford and Cal could land in a number of different bowl games including the Sun Bowl, Las Vegas Bowl and Cheez-It Bowl as the most likely destinations from which to choose.
College football’s award season is coming soon, which means various individual awards are trimming down their massive watch lists to much smaller lists of semifinalists, and soon finalists. The Biletnikoff Award, which honors the nation’s best receiver regardless of position, released its list of 11 semifinalists for its award this season. As expected, some of the nation’s leading receivers managed to make the cut midway through November.
The list of semifinalists includes some of the top receivers from the Big 12 with Oklahoma’s Marquise Brown, West Virginia’s David Sills V, Oklahoma State’s Tylan Wallace, and Texas Tech’s Antoine Wesley are among the 11 semifinalists for the award. Wesley leads the nation in average receiving yards per game with 134.7 ypg. Wallace is not far behind with 128.2 ypg. Those two are among the seven receivers who have already eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark this season.
UMass receiver Andy Isabella, who leads the nation with 1,479 receiving yards was also named a semifinalist for the award. Hawaii’s John Ursua, the nation’s leader in receiving touchdowns (15) also made the cut.
The SEC’s top two receivers, A.J. Brown of Ole Miss (SEC-leading 1,047 receiving yards) and Alabama’s Jerry Jeudy (SEC-leading 10 touchdowns and second-most receiving yards, 925 yards). Arizona State’s N'Keal Harry, among the Pac-12 leaders in receiving yards and touchdowns, is joined by Stanford’s JJ Arcega-Whiteside as the Pac-12’s semifinalists.
Freshman star Rondale Moore of Purdue is the only player from a Big Ten school named a semifinalist for the award. Among the power conferences, the Big Ten has the longest drought of Biletnikoff Award winners with Braylon Edwards of Michigan being the last Big Ten player to win the award in 2004. The Big 12 has dominated the award over the past decade with seven Biletnikoff Award winners since 2007 including the last three years (Corey Coleman of Baylor in 2015, Dede Westbrook of Oklahoma in 2016, and James Washington of Oklahoma State in 2017) and two back-to-back winners (Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech in 2007-2008 and Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State in 2010 and 2011).
This list of 11 semifinalists will be trimmed down to three finalists on Nov. 19. The 2018 Biletnikoff Award will be presented on Dec. 6 at The Home Depot College Football Awards Presentation on ESPN.
Times have been tough for Stanford this season, and they could be a bit tougher than anticipated this weekend against Oregon State. Stanford will play this weekend’s game against the Beavers without one of its top wide receivers. JJ Arcega-Whiteside has been ruled out of action this week due to a right ankle injury.
Stanford head coach David Shaw told reporters Arcega-Whiteside will take the week off “Barring a miracle.”
“It’s not terrible. No broken bones. Everybody heals differently,” Shaw said, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. “We’ll see what happens early next week.”
Arcega-Whiteside suffered the right ankle injury in last week’s game against Washington, and he had to be carted off the field as a result. Although Stanford is taking on one of the Pac-12’s least intimidating passing offenses, the loss of the Cardinal’s top wide receiver still hurts Stanford’s second-ranked passing offense in the conference.
Arcega-Whiteside is Stanford’s leading receiver this season with 48 receptions for 754 yards and 11 touchdowns. The rest of the team has accounted for eight touchdowns in the passing game. With the senior out of action this weekend, Stanford will rely on tight end Kaden Smith and senior receiver Trenton Smith to carry the load as the top targets. Against the Beavers, Stanford should be able to survive this week, but how long the injury lingers for Arcega-Whiteside will be monitored closely.
Mike Leach began the season with an opening at quarterback, questions about his staff, and a host of preseason expectations saying his team would fall flat in a deep Pac-12. The old pirate, it seems, is about to have the last laugh however.
No. 14 Washington State and their merry band of underdogs continued their winning ways on Saturday night to move to 7-1 on the season, capping off a wild 41-38 shootout with No. 24 Stanford to take firm control of the Pac-12 North in the process.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew was once again in the middle of things when the Cougars needed a big play, throwing for 438 yards and three touchdowns while moving the sticks with his legs on a critical fourth down conversion on the go-ahead drive. He was particularly lights out after halftime, going 24-of-27 in the final two quarters as the Air Raid got turned up to full blast as the game went on. James Williams was also fantastic out of the backfield, rushing for 30 yards and a pair of scores while catching nine passes for 79 yards.
Dezmon Patmon was Wazzu’s leading receiver with 10 receptions for 127 yards as the ball was spread around quite a bit considering there were 10 pass catchers in total.
The thrilling comeback by the visitors spoiled a pretty good offensive show from the home team. While Bryce Love was limited as he dealt with injuries and rushed for only 53 on the ground, K.J. Costello put together one of his best performances of the season. The young signal-caller threw for 323 yards and four touchdowns all told, dropping back a very un-Stanford-like 43 times in the game. JJ Arcega-Whiteside had a pair of his trademark box-out touchdowns to go with 111 yards while tight end Kaden Smith was a problem all night for the WSU defense with 112 yards and a score of his own.
The Cardinal wound up with 443 yards of total offense and averaged nearly seven yards per play but couldn’t get a second half stop as they blew an 11 point halftime lead.
The victory helps re-shape the entire division on a wild day in the Pac-12 North where another top 25 team, Washington, lost to Cal across the bay minutes beforehand. Washington State will wrap up the first few months of the season in first place and a clear path to Santa Clara for the conference title game if they can avoid a letdown and beat the Huskies in Pullman for the Apple Cup. Stanford will travel to Seattle next weekend in a game that was billed to be for the division title but will instead be a contest for second place at best as each tries to keep pace with the Cougars.
This is not at all a place many expected WSU to be in but here they are — possibly to stay — as they hit the first set of College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday with plenty of momentum and a ton of good wins in their pocket.
Stanford head coach David Shaw is not one to get excited at the prospect of a shootout but he and the No. 24 Cardinal found themselves locked into one on Saturday evening as they lead No. 14 Washington State 28-17 at halftime of a critical Pac-12 North showdown.
Quarterback K.J. Costello was already up to 192 yards passing, recording three touchdowns in a far more wide-open version of Shaw’s offense than we’ve gotten used to seeing over the years. One of those scoring strikes naturally went to top target JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who once again posted up a defensive back in the end zone for the first points of the ball game before finishing with six catches for 56 yards. Tight end Kaden Smith had the other touchdown, smartly leaving his block when Costello started to scramble and winding up walking across the goal line nearly untouched as a result.
Maybe the most encouraging sign however was the play of oft-injured running back Bryce Love. The one-time Heisman contender rushed for 50 yards and looked a bit like last year’s version by breaking off a 43-yard run with plenty of burst and speed to the outside. Trent Irwin did a little bit of everything with 46 yards receiving and had a huge 39 yard punt return as well.
The effort was far from the Cougars’ best as they look to follow up their huge victory over Oregon last week with another on the Farm. Mike Leach’s side was already up to seven penalties for 69 yards in the first half and improbably had two three-and-outs on offense among their six drives.
Gardner Minshew was still efficient exploiting the underbelly of the Stanford defense, throwing for 191 yards and a touchdown while tailback James Williams took one across the goal line on the ground while recording 72 total yards.
The winner of this game will take their place atop the Pac-12 North standings ahead of a big stretch of conference games for both sides. We’ve seen some wild second half finishes out West already today, could there be another one in store? It’s trending that way.