Stanford running back Bryce Love entered Week 6 leading the country in just about every rushing category imaginable so it was safe to say it was a priority to stop him if Utah wanted to remain undefeated. The Utes ended up containing the nation’s leading rusher for three quarters, but the tailback still found a way to get loose and help the Cardinal to a 23-20 victory on Saturday night in a game where every yard was earned between two stingy defenses.
Love had just 75 yards on 15 carries until early in the fourth quarter, being met with three or four Utah defenders at the line of scrimmage on just about every touch. Despite a game plan that was clearly geared toward loading the box, the shifty back came close time after time to spinning out of a hit and breaking off a big one. Not surprisingly, after battering it and battering it, the dam eventually broke and Love ripped off a 68-yard touchdown run that proved to be the decisive score in the closely contested Pac-12 battle between similarly built teams. He eventually finished the game with 152 yards and a hefty 7.6 yards per carry.
Sealing the deal, the feisty Stanford defense picked off passes on the next two drives to essentially wrap up a win in a difficult environment on the road in Salt Lake City.
Both sides played their backup quarterbacks in this one and only one side survived it. Regular starter Keller Chryst took the first snaps under center for the Cardinal (7/13, 106 yards), but was spelled regularly for K.J. Costello who added a different element with his legs in addition to the 82 yards passing he had.
The home team wasn’t so lucky with dual-threat starter Tyler Huntley out of the lineup due to injury, forcing last year’s first-team option Troy Williams into action with his first start of the year. While the senior flashed at times, he still hovered around the 50 percent mark passing and the pair of late interceptions he threw were downright backbreaking after the team was threatening to come back. Running back Zach Moss recorded just 79 yards and the Utes’ lone touchdown but was mostly a non-factor down the stretch as the team played from behind.
The end result on the scoreboard certainly makes both Pac-12 division races a little more interesting. Utah will travel to Los Angeles to take on USC in a game that very well could decide the South while Stanford continues to control their own destiny in the North as they return home to host a banged up Oregon team.