Less than two weeks after the Stanford Cardinal got some people talking National Championship with an upset win over the USC Trojans, the Washington Huskies squashed those lofty hopes.
Mired by penalties, an inept run game and a completely absent passing offense, the No. 8 Cardinal (3-1, 1-1) were upset by Washington, 17-13. It may be the Cardinal’s first loss of the season, but it comes at a price: it was at the hands of unranked conference opponent and will be detrimental to Stanford’s hopes of competing for the Coaches’ Trophy, or even a Rose Bowl bid for that matter.
The offense — more specifically quarterback Josh Nunes — were so ineffective that reporters asked head coach David Shaw in his postgame press conference if he was considering a quarterback change. His response was as blunt as it gets.
How bad was Stanford’s offense?
- It was the first time that they were held without an offensive touchdown in 59 games.
- They only amassed 10 first downs in total and were an anemic 5-18 on third down.
- They averaged 2.3 yards rushing. Stepfan Taylor carried the ball 21 times for 75 yards. Compare that to last year’s effort against the Huskies, where he racked up 138 yards and a touchdown on only 10 carries.
- This was Nunes’ worst performance of the year and it wasn’t even close. He finished his night 18-37 for 170 yards and an interception.
- Tight end Zach Ertz was about the only receiving option that showed up, collecting six catches for 106 yards. Ty Montgomery added six catches as well, but for only 39 yards, and he also let a few long passes graze off of his fingertips.
Neither team could get anything done offensively through more than a half. Keith Price was doing the best he could with an offensive line that would make even Jay Cutler cringe, but he couldn’t find the end zone either. The game was a 6-3 stalemate in the third quarter, then Stanford appeared to take control with a 47-yard Trent Murphy pick-6.
It wouldn’t last. In the waning seconds of the period, Washington’s Bishop Sankey ran on 4th-and-1. Sankey didn’t just earn a new set of downs, he found a huge hole and took off for a 61-yard touchdown, cutting Stanford’s lead to 3. With five minutes left in the fourth quarter, Price manufactured another drive, this one culminating in a 35-yard touchdown reception for wide receiver Kasen Williams to give Washington (3-1, 1-0) a lead they would not relinquish.
Nunes had one last chance to get the Cardinal in the end zone, but his campaign fell short when a 4th down fade route in Washington territory sailed past Levine Toilolo (who seemed to slow up as the ball approached) and into the hands of Huskies cornerback Desmond Trufant.
Stanford faces an uphill battle with a schedule featuring games at Notre Dame, Oregon and UCLA. But before that, they’ll have to take on the upstart Arizona Wildcats at home next week — a game that will be considered a must win if Stanford still has hopes of winning the Pac-12.