2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Colorado at Stanford
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Oct. 8 at Stanford 48 … Colorado 7
CFN Analysis: As if Stanford needed to be stronger, Andrew Luck is red hot. He threw for 370 yards and three touchdowns spreading the ball around well and getting everyone involved, while the running game got a nice day from the combination of Tyler Gaffney and Stepfan Taylor to take the game home. There were a few mistakes and two turnovers, but it didn't matter. The defense stuffed the Buffs cold, but the blowouts are coming from the offense with the line giving Luck ten days to throw and pounding away for the ground game. With three road games in the next four, including the USC game, the Cardinal will be tested a bit, but the team is humming at the right time and getting better by the week.
Colorado simply got outclassed by the Stanford. The offense wasn't there to keep up the pace and the defense wasn't even close. Down 27-7 at halftime, the Buffs had to abandon the ground game and then it was over; Tyler Hansen couldn't get the chains moving as the O converted just 2-of-13 third down chances and the passing game threw for a mere 202 yards. Stanford is playing at a national title level, so there's no real reason to get too upset, but at 1-5 the Buffs need something positive to build on. That's not going to come against Washington, Oregon, Arizona, State and USC over the next four games. The season is lost, and now it's time to identify playmakers and find something the team can do well on a consistent basis.
(AP) STANFORD, Calif. -- Andrew Luck threw for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns, and seventh-ranked Stanford stayed perfect with a 48-7 victory over Pac-12 newcomer Colorado on Saturday night.
With former Stanford standouts Tiger Woods and John Elway joining the crush of NFL scouts on the sidelines, Luck completed 26 of 33 passes with a rare interception to extend the nation's longest winning streak to 13 games. Max Bergen blocked a field goal and returned it for a score and Ryan Hewitt caught two touchdown passes to help the Cardinal (5-0, 3-0) cruise past another opponent.
Tyler Hansen passed for 202 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the third straight loss for the Buffaloes (1-5, 0-2). The program is still searching for its first league victory.
Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney and Jeremy Stewart each had a 1-yard scoring run as the Cardinal matched the longest winning streak in school history, set over three seasons from 1939-41. The sellout crowd of 50,360 included some of Stanford's greats, and what a show the program's latest star provided.
The yards passing was the second highest of Luck's career, and he didn't even play the final 10 minutes. Only a 423-yard passing performance in a loss at Arizona in 2009 did Luck throw for more yards.
The Buffaloes limped onto The Farm after a blowing a 10-point lead in the final 3 minutes against Washington State last week. Afterward, Colorado coach Jon Embree declared he was tired of losing and ripped into his team for crumbling again.
They couldn't have asked for a better start in this one.
Stewart fumbled a short opening kickoff to give Colorado the ball on the Stanford 36-yard line. The promising start quickly fizzled when the offense stalled and special teams imploded.
Bergen ran untouched through the line and blocked a 29-yard field goal attempt by Will Oliver. Bergen picked up the ball on a bounce and ran 75 yards for a score, giving Stanford a 7-0 lead.
Even though Luck and the offense had a lengthy wait to take the field, they showed little rust.
Stanford coach David Shaw limited the no-huddle offense that gives Luck the freedom to call plays. With bigger matchups against Washington, Southern California and Oregon looming, there was no need to dig deep into the playbook against a struggling Colorado team missing a chunk of its secondary.
Embree suspended five defensive players indefinitely for violating unspecified team rules, including starting defensive back Parker Orms. Receiver Paul Richardson also sat out with a knee injury.
On of the rare occasions Luck had control of a hurry-up offense, he found Levine Toilolo for a 27-yard completion. Stepfan Taylor capped the drive with a 1-yard TD run to put the Cardinal ahead 13-0 after a missed extra point.
Not everything for Stanford went smoothly.
Luck threw only his second interception of the season in the second quarter, and again it came on a tipped passes by receiver Chris Owusu. This time, Terrel Smith benefited for an easy pick off that led to Colorado's first score.
Rodney Stewart took a short pass on the far sideline, cut back across the field and sprinted 76 yards down the Stanford sideline. Two plays later, Tony Jones caught a 5-yard touchdown pass to trim the Cardinal's lead to 13-7.
Just when the Buffaloes started to gain momentum, Luck turned a close contest into a rout.
On third and 26, Luck stepped up in the pocket, moved to his right and connected with Griff Whalen in stride for a 27-yard completion. Jeremy Stewart followed with a 1-yard touchdown run to put the Cardinal ahead 20-7.
Luck added a 1-yard TD pass to Hewitt just before the half to put Stanford ahead 27-7. Hewitt also caught a 10-yard touchdown pass on the Cardinal's first possession of the third quarter.
Gaffney ran for a 1-yard touchdown on fourth down to push Stanford's lead to 41-7 late in the third quarter. Whalen caught a 30-yard pass from Luck for another score early in the fourth quarter.
Colorado (1-4) at Stanford (4-0) Oct. 8, 7:30, Versus
Here's The Deal … If there are flaws in this year's Stanford team, the first four opponents were unable to draw them to the surface. The Cardinal has trampled through the softest part of the schedule by an average score of 45-11 to move up to No. 4 in the latest Coaches poll. It's entirely possible that the program will play just one ranked team during the regular season, making style points crucial in its quest for more than just a Rose Bowl berth in January.
Colorado is going to have its hands full on this first trip to the Farm in almost two decades. The Buffaloes have gotten off to a predictably slow start in head coach Jon Embree's debut, though last week's disappointing home loss to Washington State set the bar even lower than the folks in Boulder would have liked. This first season with a new staff on board will essentially be a three-month course on breaking old habits and breaking in those underclassmen who are ready to play.
Why Colorado Might Win: While it hasn't been sustained as much as the coaches would like, the Buffs have shown occasional flashes on offense so far this fall. Last week, for instance, they scored three touchdowns against Wazzu, a pair off the right arm of QB Tyler Hansen and one from RB Rodney Stewart. Stewart was channeling his 2010 self with 132 yards on 26 carries. On the outside, Paul Richardson and Toney Clemons provide Colorado with a pair of athletic wide receivers who are capable of stretching the Stanford defensive backfield in a variety of different directions.
Why Stanford Might Win: The 45-point-a-game Cardinal attack simply has too much firepower for the Colorado defense. While the Buffs have excelled at creating pressure in 2011, that trend will be halted by a terrific Stanford line that's allowed just a pair of sacks. Besides trying to contain QB Andrew Luck, the biggest challenge for opposing defenses has been the Cardinal's balance and diversity. It ranks 31st nationally on the ground behind RB Stepfan Taylor, and is 32nd through the air. A classic case of pick your poison, Stanford can beat teams by a method of its choice. While everyone in Palo Alto is living in Luck's shadow, the nation's sixth-ranked scoring defense won't be a secret for too much longer.
What To Watch Out For: The catalyst for that Stanford defense has been Chase Thomas, who lines up at outside linebacker, but conducts himself with the mindset of a rush end. While he won't be the only concern for a middling Colorado offensive line, he will be the biggest one. The junior possesses a natural instinct for getting into the backfield, leading the team with 6.5 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. The Buffaloes will need to corral him as much as possible, but double-teams are going to make life easier for the other Cardinal linebackers and linemen.
What Will Happen: Stanford has shown a focus and a resolve against overmatched opponents, a credit to head coach David Shaw and the rest of his staff. The Cardinal will take care of the Buffaloes in businesslike fashion, precisely running the offense and the defense with very few mental errors. In a carbon copy of the first four victories, Shaw's kids will build an early cushion behind Luck & Co. before asking the defense to protect that lead in an otherwise uneventful second half.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 41 … Colorado 17
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