Cardinal air attack sparks come-from-behind win over UCLA 49-42

Photo credit: @StanfordFball

By Daniel Dullum
Sports Radio Service
Saturday, November 24, 2018

One of the big keys to Stanford’s Pac-12 football win over UCLA Saturday at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif., was its proficiency in the big play.

The Cardinal won 49-42, thanks to an attack that included nine pass plays of 15 or more yards — four of them resulting in touchdowns.

Quarterback K.J. Costello had a big day for the Cardinal, completing 23 of 37 passes for 344 yards and a career-high five TDs. In the process, Stanford extended its winning streak over UCLA to 11 games.

Stanford (7-4 overall, 5-3 Pac-12) needed those big plays, trailing 42-41 midway through the fourth quarter. A 52-yard scoring strike from Costello to Osiris St. Brown put the Cardinal in front, with Bryce Love’s 2-point conversion run.

Then, it was the Cardinal defense’s turn, as the Bruins (3-9, 3-6) drove to the Stanford 43 with under one minute to play. But UCLA’s drive stalled and they turned the ball over on downs.

Stanford receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside caught seven passes for 106 yards – three of those catches for touchdowns. Arcega-Whiteside has 14 touchdown receptions on the season, tying a team record first set by James Lofton in 1978.

Trenton Irvin, who caught seven passes for 103 yards, also had a TD reception. Love, meanwhile, gained 85 rushing yards on 22 attempts with a touchdown.

Noteworthy was the attendance, or lack of it. An announced crowd of 38,391 watched the contest, the lowest crowd for the Bruins since 1997.

Next week, the Cardinal visits California at Berkeley after the Big Game was postponed on Nov. 17 due to the wildfires

It’s game time. And I got to play, too!!

By Jeremy Harness

PASADENA – Now this is what I signed up for.

On Wednesday afternoon, I witnessed the Rose Bowl Game for the first time, and I will say this: It was much more than I expected it to be for many reasons. After Montsy, Angelita and I stayed up eating take-out pizza until 2:30 am the night before, New Year’s Day started a tad earlier than the previous day.

After quickly wolfing down a few eggs and some bacon at the hotel, I board the 9 am shuttle to the Rose Bowl stadium, a shuttle which is led by a police escort. This certainly made me feel like a celebrity, as if I didn’t feel like one since the moment I checked into the hotel here in SoCal.

After cranking out a pre-game breakdown piece for this site, it was time for me and my newfound partner in crime, ESPN Radio 100.9 FM’s Chance McBride, to take care of some unfinished business. Since both of us now had the needed game-day credentials and had allotted ourselves enough time to take in the atmosphere, we could now get on the field and snap some pictures.

For instances such as this, thank goodness for modern technology, particularly Facebook and Instagram. In a related note, I’ll be hard-pressed to find a period of time that I have used social media as frequently as these past four days.

At the end of the game, which Michigan State came out on top by a 24-20 score, the most encouraging thing that I saw was when the Stanford band played in the corner of the end zone. Yes, there were a good deal of otherwise-downtrodden Cardinal fans, but there were also a few Michigan State fans who were enjoying the band’s performance.

Not that watching this fierce matchup in my first-ever Rose Bowl wasn’t great, but the fun was about to pick up. After my post-game work was done, Chance mentioned that he needed to get out of the press box and grab some fresh air, and I saw an opportunity of a lifetime, even more so than watching the Rose Bowl in person.

See, ever since I was a kid growing up playing football up until the present day, I’ve had dreams of returning a kickoff or an interception down the sideline into the end zone. Since I had seen other folks running around on the field after it had cleared out following the post-game celebration by Michigan State, this was a chance that I simply could not walk – in this case, run – away from.

All that was needed was the permission from the security still remaining on the field level to go back onto the field, which was granted.

Lights. Camera. Action.

Standing two yards deep in my own end zone, using my cell phone and my wallet as a makeshift football, I gently toss them in the air simultaneously as in to field a kickoff. I make one cut to the right toward the middle of the field at around the 10-yard line before dashing back to the left toward the sideline at the 30 and then straighten out as I near the left sideline at midfield.

This is where I start to run away from the coverage guys, so I kick it into high gear with the end zone – and sure glory – in plain sight, and only slow down as I get inside the 10. As I get to about the 2-yard line, I somersault over the goal line and into the end zone, a la 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman’s game-winning, playoff berth-clinching pick-six against Atlanta two weeks ago.

Before I have a chance to celebrate, however, an official in the form of a TV reporter working on his own post-game report, had a ruling on the field.

“You stepped out right here,” he said, pointing to the opposing 41-yard line. This meant that a re-do was effectively in order.

Fielding my second imaginary kickoff two yards deep in the end zone, I make the same cuts that I made on the first one but make absolutely sure that I stay inbounds this time – which was ruled that I did – and then make the same dive into the end zone before getting up and slapping hands with imaginary fans in the back of the end zone.

Mission accomplished. That is, until I hear something approximately 50 yards away.

“Do it again!”

Big-time athletes don’t check out when they’re tired – my legs were definitely feeling the weight, most likely due to the fact that I hadn’t worked out since Christmas Eve and had not even stretched before my own kickoff – and I wasn’t about to, either.

So I make the identical pattern for my third return – hey, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? – and upon my somersault into the end zone, I decide to stay put in that end zone, flat on my back and not in a huge hurry to get back up. Now, my destination has been reached, and all parties present for this journey were satisfied.

Meanwhile, Chance was taking a panoramic picture in the middle of the field with his fancy smart phone – which is now on my wish list for that very purpose – and just so happened to take a picture of Jeremy Harness, the kick returner.

No worries, though, as neither I nor Stanford head coach David Shaw have any immediate plans of my replacing Ty Montgomery on kickoff returns.

I thought this was the best possible ending to this Rose Bowl night, but I was wrong. Chance had found a leftover rose from the long-vacated interview room, which still had several such roses that were otherwise going to be thrown out. With that in mind, I grabbed three of them for Montsy, Bertha and Angelita.

As I returned to the hotel with flowers in hand, each of them were greatly appreciative and made this the perfect finish to this night as well as this journey.

Michigan St., Stanford fans different but come together in the end

By Chance McBride and Jeremy Harness

PASADENA – Anytime a big game is played, particularly at a neutral site, there are bound to be differences – some more subtle than others – between the teams. Since these teams most often come from different parts of the country, the fans will tend to be a little different from each other as well.

As was the case with the 100th Rose Bowl Game, which took place Wednesday afternoon and was won by No. 4 Michigan State over No. 5 Stanford, 24-20. A total of 95,173 fans crammed Rose Bowl Stadium, and the fan base appeared to be split right down the middle.

However, the way that the fans were spread out couldn’t have been any different, nor was the manner in which those fans tailgated before walking in through the gates.

Michigan State’s fans traveled in congregations, resembling huge seas of green. Stanford’s supporters, on the other hand, were considerably more spread apart and pretty much fit in with whoever happened to be around them.

The seating arrangement inside the stadium as game time arrived also mirrored this.

These two teams have an incredibly large amount of on-the-field attributes in common. Off the field, on the other hand, is an entirely different story. Both teams were equally represented Wednesday, as the stadium was littered with Cardinal red to go along with MSU’s trademark forest green colors.

The West Coast attitude and influence on the culture of Stanford is plain to see. From the happy-go-lucky nature of the band all the way to the demeanor of the fans. Stanford is by no means lazy nor a pushover, but they simply have a particular way and speed of doing things.

Cardinal fans across the stadium were easily equal to the Spartans in sheer numbers, but they carried a slightly more quiet confidence about them. One aspect that is incredibly endearing about both sides. but specifically Stanford, was how friendly they were while still remaining stoic and strong at the same time.

Meanwhile, Spartan fans are very strong and boisterous in their presence. Their unmistakable aura renders the actual number of fans – whether it be 10 Spartans or even 300 – pointless. With a plethora of various chants and war calls at their disposal, Spartan fans are an undeniable presence wherever they go.

In addition, one would be hard-pressed to find a school that could get nearly 45,000 people to fly to California on such short notice. When the fans did arrive, they traveled in huge packs where the classic “Go Green! Go White!” echoed throughout the stadium and areas surrounding the game.

In a way, this was a microcosm of the cultural differences of the different parts of the country that these two schools represent. People from the Midwest tend to stick together much more and show an interdependent trait. Californians, on the other hand, are much more likely to march to the beat of their own drummer while adopting the “I’ll see ya when I see ya” mentality.

Which makes everything come full circle is the fact that – at least for this Rose Bowl – the two sides of fans come together at the end of the game, just as the Stanford and Michigan State players did. The Stanford band played in one corner of the Cardinal end zone, which cheered up a good deal of its dejected fans. Among those moving to the upbeat music that the band produced were a handful of fans wearing green and white.

That tells us one thing: No matter how hard, or how long, we fight each other, we’re all on the same team in the end.

Chance McBride is reporter for ESPN 100.9 FM based in Michigan while Jeremy Harness is a regular contributor to SportsRadioService.com.

Longshot LB stops Stanford cold in Rose Bowl

By Jeremy Harness

PASADENA – Kyler Elsworth entered college weighing 180 pounds, looking nothing like a linebacker. He immediately faced long odds as a walk-on of being a contributor for Michigan State’s football team.

Fast forward five years – and 45 pounds of solid muscle – and Elsworth was still fighting an uphill battle going into the 100th Rose Bowl Game. The fifth-year senior was thrust into a huge role in replacing All-American linebacker Max Bullough, and he came up with the decisive stop by stuffing fullback Ryan Hewitt on 4th-and-1 with 1:43 remaining to give his No. 4 Spartans a 24-20 win over No. 5 Stanford in front of 95,173 fans.

“Opportunities come for other players, and they have an opportunity to make good on it,” Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio said. “Kyler Elsworth got a chance to make a play, (and he) makes the play of the game.”

Stanford held a distinct advantage in the first quarter and held a 17-14 halftime lead, but Michigan State seized momentum in the second half, particularly on defense.

Gaffney finished with 91 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries, but gained only 22 yards for the final three quarters. Particularly in the second half, the Spartans plugged up every single lane that Gaffney was able to run through in the first quarter, which significantly slowed down Stanford’s offense and resulted in increased three-and-outs and allowed the Michigan State offense to stay in rhythm.

“I told the guys (that) we had a heck of a year and got beat today,” Stanford head coach David Shaw said. “They played better. They made more plays. That’s the bottom line.”

Stanford, however, also didn’t help itself in certain areas. Although they only turned the ball over once – as did Michigan State – the Cardinal dropped two sure interceptions and committed eight penalties, one of which negated a Jordan Richards interception while several others kept drives alive for Michigan State.

Early on, however, Stanford looked like the fundamentally-sound team that took the Pac-12 title. The advantage that it appeared to have following Bullough’s suspension showed up on the very first drive, as the Cardinal sliced through Michigan State’s defense for 77 yards, a drive that was aided by Michael Rector’s 43-yard pass from Kevin Hogan.

Stanford picked up several first downs until Tyler Gaffney broke a tackle near the line of scrimmage and rumbled 16 yards to give the Cardinal a 7-0 lead.

Both teams got away with a turnover in the first quarter. Hogan coughed up the ball after being uprooted on a bootleg play in Michigan State territory, with two Spartan defenders having clear shots at the recovery.

However, neither came up with the ball, and Stanford recovered and continued the drive, which was capped off by Jordan Williamson’s 34-yard field goal.

On the ensuing possession, Stanford linebacker Kevin Anderson had an interception bounce off his chest and end up into the hands of flanker Macgarrett Kings, Jr. for a first down to keep that drive going. The Spartans parlayed that, along with a pass-interference penalty in the end zone, into a touchdown that cut Stanford’s lead to 10-7.

Anderson got another chance to redeem himself when quarterback Connor Cook committed the cardinal sin by backpedaling and throwing a desperation pass into the middle of the field. Anderson converted the gift into an easy 40-yard pick-six.

Cook, however, responded by taking his offense down the field and hit Trevon Pendleton on a 2-yard touchdown pass to again cut Stanford’s lead to three at halftime.

Besides a Michigan State turnover deep in Stanford territory, the Spartans controlled the third quarter and tied the game with a 31-yard field goal by Michael Geiger.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal picked up only two first downs in the third quarter and did absolutely nothing to even change the field position immediately following it. Michigan State got the ball back on the Stanford 27 to early in the fourth quarter and exclaimed the drive when Cook found Tony Lippett, who beat cornerback Wayne Lyons for a 25-yard scoring strike to give MSU a 24-17 lead.

Meanwhile, Lyons, who had two interceptions in the fourth quarter to seal Stanford’s win over Notre Dame in November, had a nightmare of a game. He was beaten several times on long pass plays and, like Anderson earlier, had a sure interception bounce off his chest in the third quarter.

It was a bitter end to the last game of the college careers of Stanford’s seniors, a class that includes Gaffney, linebackers  A.J. Tarpley and Shayne Skov – who made several big tackles and had an overall great game – as well as kicker Jordan Williamson.

“Our group of seniors (is) the most accomplished group of football players to ever go through Stanford University,” Shaw said. “Regardless of (Wednesday’s) outcome, that’s just the truth. When you talk about the best teams of the BCS era, you have to mention Stanford University.”

Keys to victory: No. 5 Stanford vs. No. 4 Michigan State

By Jeremy Harness

 

PASADENA – During Monday morning’s press conference, Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio said that he and his team were tired of talking about the game and were ready to just play it. Well, after a week of hype and preparation, it is, in fact, time for Dantonio’s No. 4 Spartans to face No. 5 Stanford in the 100th Rose Bowl.

 

These two teams are just about a mirror image of each other, as while both have playmakers at the receiver position, they center their offensive attacks on the success of their running game and their ability to win the game in the trenches.

 

Also key for these teams is their ability to stick with what makes them what they as a team, and they have suffered defeats when they deviate from that in any way. For instance, Stanford got away from their running game against Utah and ended up dropping their first game of the season. Meanwhile, Michigan State committed four pass interference penalties and had a trick play backfire in its only loss of the season, at the hands of Notre Dame.

 

With that said, here are the keys to victory for each team:

 

STANFORD

The Cardinal must control the line of scrimmage on both offense and defense, a method that has carried them into their second straight Rose Bowl. That task appears to have gotten a bit easier with the suspension of Michigan State All-American linebacker Max Bullough.

 

The key to their rushing attack is the extra offensive lineman that are employed in their “jumbo” package, which they continue to have great success, particularly in big games.

 

Stanford has got to take care of the football. The Cardinal enter the game with a turnover ratio of minus-0.08 compared to Michigan State’s plus-1.08, and turnovers played a big role in both losses this year. In its loss at Utah in October, they lost two fumbles while the Utes had only one turnover while USC intercepted quarterback Kevin Hogan twice while forcing another fumble while the Trojans turned the ball over only once in its upset win in November.

 

MICHIGAN STATE

Stanford is equipped with perhaps the most dynamic playmaker in college football in Ty Montgomery, who has broken several big plays at wide receiver as well as a kick returner. On offense, expect Michigan State to assign corner Darqueze Dennard, who won this year’s Jim Thorpe Award (awarded to the nation’s best defensive back) to Montgomery for at least the majority of the game, if not all of it.

 

Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio said earlier in the week that they’re not going to shy away from Montgomery in any way on special teams, so don’t expect to see any corner kicks. However, it will be extremely wise for Michigan State to get quite a bit of hang time on their punts, in order to allow the gunners to get down there by the time he fields the punt.

 

In Bullough’s absence, the X-factor on defense may not be Dennard but rather firth-year senior linebacker Kyler Elsworth – who originally came to Michigan State as a 180-pound wrestler – as well as Darien Harris, both of which Dantonio has said will see significant time at that position against Stanford’s vaunted running game. The better those guys play, the better chance the Spartans have of taking the Rose Bowl trophy with them back to East Lansing.

Day 2: Getting my feet wet, and glad I’ve never had a rifle pointed at me

By Jeremy Harness

 

LOS ANGELES – On my first full night in Southern California, I got a much more of an understanding of the history of the Rose Bowl, as far as how much it means to so many people and how much each game stands up in the history of not only college football, but in the history of sports.

 

To achieve this, after getting such a late start to the day before, I made sure to get an early jump on matters on my second day on the job.

 

After getting my credentials for the game as well as the events leading up to the “Granddaddy of them all,” the day officially started off with press conferences with the head coach with each of the participating teams in the Rose Bowl. The meat of the conferences centered around the suspension of star Michigan State linebacker Max Bullough for the Rose Bowl, with Stanford head coach David Shaw reminding us of the fact that tough decisions like this, as unpopular as it seems, that maintain the overall health and morale of the team, which is much more important than just one individual.

 

Even though he didn’t talk about it very much at all, Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio also said that this was about the team – and not one single player.

 

Besides that, Dantonio also offered a few key nuggets of wisdom, and it wasn’t necessarily confined to the game of football.

 

“I don’t care what level of a player you are, you’d better overachieve because that’s the only way you’re going to be successful.”

 

It doesn’t take long to figure out that Dantonio’s words don’t just apply to football players, and they don’t apply to just athletes. Whatever you do, in every single walk of life, you have to give that little extra effort if you’re really going to be successful at whatever it is that you do.

 

After grabbing some breakfast at the hotel, it was off to Pasadena for the Rose Bowl Hall of Fame induction ceremony, during which three individuals – former Michigan head coach Lloyd Carr, former Ohio State offensive tackle Orlando Pace and legendary USC wide receiver Lynn Swann – were welcomed into the Rose Bowl’s eternal fraternity.

 

When you go to a function that features older people trading war stories, you’re going to get more than a handful of funny stories that had never been shared before. This year’s Rose Bowl Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony was no different.

 

Most people know that Swann attended USC before going on to a Hall of Fame NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. They probably didn’t know that he almost lost his life before he started his college career.

 

See, he and running back Sam Cunningham – who acted as Swann’s presenter and himself went on to have a nice NFL career while being inducted into this very same Rose Bowl Hall of Fame – went to visit Cunningham’s aunt and uncle in Louisville, Ky during a long road trip.

 

According to Cunningham, the city had been ravaged by burglaries during that particular time, so when Swann went up to the front door while Cunningham stayed behind in the car, the aunt, not one to take any chances, greeted him by pointing a rifle at him. Only when Cunningham jumped out of the car did she put the gun down.

 

“I’m the reason why he’s here today,” Cunningham said.

 

After the ceremony, I had a chance to stand side-by-side with Pace, who went on to an outstanding 12-year career in the NFL, which includes a Super Bowl ring with the St. Louis Rams. Now, me being 5-foot-9 and approximately 170 pounds, I had an idea. But standing next to Pace, who is 6-foot-5 and weighs over 300, I knew that this was exactly the reason why I quit playing football after Pop Warner.

 

Carr also had a funny story of his own. He had a hotel that he was quite fond of, the Huntington Sheraton, in which he and his team stayed when Michigan competed in the big game.

 

“I loved that place,” he said. “Even when the fire alarm went off at 3 a.m.”

 

This is what makes the Rose Bowl the special game that it is. It’s not just the legendary games that it creates, but also the backstories that can be passed from generation to generation.

Shaw: Bullough suspension sets good example

By Jeremy Harness

 

LOS ANGELES – Suspending a key player at the most crucial time of a season – the Rose Bowl, in this case – is the most heart-wrenching, nerve-racking decision that coach can possibly have after certain rules are broken.

 

On the other hand, as Stanford head coach David Shaw said Monday morning, taking that action is very necessary for the overall health of the team.

 

The topic was brought up in the aftermath of Michigan State suspending star senior middle linebacker Max Bullough for the Rose Bowl for breaking team rules. At press time, however, no other information has been released pertaining to any details of the violation that Bullough committed to warrant the suspension.

 

Michigan State head coach Mark Dantonio did not discuss this matter much further Monday morning, but he said that either Darien Harris or Kyler Elsworth will start in Bullough’s place while both figure to see significant time at the position.

 

When asked if their responsibilities will be the same, he said that nothing would change.

 

“It’s our system,” Dantonio said. “It’s not one individual; it’s our system.”

 

Shaw shed more light on the importance, as tough as it certainly is, to make that kind of decision when it is most necessary in order to set an example for the entire team as far as what is acceptable and what is not.

 

He recalled the beginning of last season, when he had to suspend a star linebacker and leader of his own, Shayne Skov, for the opening game of the regular season. Skov was arrested in the offseason prior for driving under the influence, and Shaw responded by suspending him for the entire offseason as well as that first game.

 

Since the incident, Skov has been, by all accounts, an unquestioned team leader and a positive example for the rest of his Cardinal teammates.

 

“Those are not really tough decisions because you set the rules before,” he said. “You set the rules early, and the guys know what they are. (When) the rules are broken, those are easy decisions.

 

“We’re in this to help young men grow, to set an example for my two young boys as they grow up. They come to every single game, and they come to practices. There are rules for these men, just like there are rules for them. You’re helping them further in life.”

 

For this reason, Shaw said that he applauds Dantonio’s move to remove Bullough – the heartbeat of the Spartans’ defense – for the Rose Bowl, the first such game in which Michigan State has played in 25 years.

 

“It doesn’t happen everywhere, and there are a lot of places where you get a slap on the wrist and they bench you for a practice, and then you play in the game,” Shaw said. “But it’s a sign of who Coach Dantonio is, and there are still some really, really good disciplinary coaches in this country that believe in setting discipline for these college athletes, which is vital to your success as a team but even more vital to their success after football.

 

“I’ll tell you this: Shayne Skov appreciated it. I think it set him on the path to where he is now as a person and as a player.”

Who Will Be Going to the Rose Bowl?

by Jerry Feitelberg

Who will Represent the Pac-12 in the Rose Bowl?

The championship of the Pac-12 will be decided Saturday afternoon at 4:45pm. The game will be played at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona, the home of Arizona State University. Both the Cardinal and the Sun Devils have identical season records of 10-2. ASU , even though they lost to Stanford in the third game of the season had the better record in conference play and thereby gained the right to host the Pac-12 championship game.ASU’s was 8-1 in conference play and their only loss came at the hands of Stanford. Stanford, on the other hand had a 7-2 record and both losses came on the road. The Cardinal fell to Utah and USC.

Should be an interesting game. Stanford really creamed ASU earlier in the season by a score of 42-28 and the game wasn’t really that close. Stanford controlled every facet of the game before ASU scored three touchdowns late in the fourth quarter when the game was well in hand.. ASU coach Todd Graham “apologized to the players for not having them ready.” Rest assure that Coach Graham will have his troops ready for Saturday’s game. It will be a home game and the fans will be the 12th man on the field for the Sun Devils.

ASU’s offense is led by Taylor Kelly. In he first game against Stanford, Kelly threw for 367 yards and three touchdowns. Jaelen Strong caught 12 passes for 168 yards. Notre Dame and Stanford beat ASU early in the season and the Sun Devils have been on a roll having won seven straight games.

Stanford will be led by quarterback Kevin Hogan as well as running backs Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. TY Montgomery is the ace of the receiving corps. The Cardinal’s defense has been outstanding all season long. They shut down three top quarterbacks so far this season. The Qbs at UCLA,Oregon State and Oregon all know what the Stanford defense can do. So it’s up the front three

and the great linebackers, Shayne Skov, Trent Murphy and A.J.Tarpley plus the outstanding corners

and safeties, especially Ed Reynolds to shut down the ASU offense.

The Cardinal players had a great time last year at the Rose Bowl. They want to go back again and

Coach David Shaw will have his troops ready for the game. Should be a war out there Saturday. Don’t miss it.