Stanford slugged its way past Kansas State in a 26-13 win. What are the five things that matter about the Cardinal win?
Stanford 26, Kansas State 13
Boring was okay.
Stanford didn’t take too many chances in the second half, mainly because it just didn’t have to. The Kansas State offense wasn’t going to move the ball, it wasn’t going to do anything through the air, and it was dead in the water after getting pinned deep by punter Jake Bailey time and again.
Rely on the defense, don’t take any unnecessary shots through the air, and run Christian McCaffrey over and over and over again – and take the win. It might not have been aesthetically pleasing, but it was ultra-effective. This is a dangerous Kansas State team with a great defense, and Stanford survived and advanced.
Ryan Burns will have to do more down the field.
There’s absolutely no complaint with a terrific 14-of-18 day for 156 yards and a touchdown with no picks. Burns stepped into the starting role, gave way to Keller Chryst for a few plays, and did what he was supposed to do by not making any big mistakes and taking the easy throws.
However, it’ll be Game On against USC in two weeks when the defense loads up to stop McCaffrey.
Kansas State was able to slow down No. 5, and unlike the Wildcats, the Trojans will have the offense to take advantage of the opportunities.
Jesse Ertz cemented himself as the Kansas State quarterback.
Joe Hubener is a good enough option for the ground game, but as bad as the Kansas State passing game is going to be at times overall, he’s the far worse option than Ertz.
There was a time when Kansas State could run the ball and there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it, but that’s not going to fly against the Stanford defensive front. Ertz was able to ball his way to a few nice plays with his legs, and he came up with two beautiful throws on the late touchdown drive, including the beauty of a fourth down touchdown pass to Isaiah Zuber.
Kansas State lost the game, but it knows it has its guy under center.
Christian McCaffrey’s Heisman campaign.
McCaffrey got stuffed by Northwestern to start last season and he ended up coming really, really close to winning the Heisman. Against Kansas State, he was bottled up all game long, his main highlight early on was a punt return for a touchdown that got called back, and he appeared to be stuffed and frustrated.
One game-sealing touchdown run later, the final numbers work out fine: 22 carries for 126 yards and two scores, seven catches for 40 yards, and 28 yards on kickoff returns and 16 on punt returns.
As the season goes on, the performance against this Kansas State D will look better and better. But in terms of the Heisman chase, it’s all about the USC game in two weeks to give it a true kickstart.
What Does This All REALLY Mean?
They are who we thought they were.
Kansas State was supposed to come in with a serious defense led by a terrific linebacking corps, and despite the solid statistical day from McCaffrey, the D did a good job overall. The offense wasn’t expected to go lights out, but it did never quit and kept on pushing – that’s what it’s going to do all year long.
Stanford isn’t going to be the Stanford of last year. It’s going to take its lumps at times when the inexperience shines through, and the offense will have to come up with a few other ideas even when McCaffrey is rolling, but the special teams were stellar and the team got the tough win against a tough team.