Stanford Cardinal Defeat Arizona State Sun Devils with the Power of Love

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Bryce Love /

Bryce Love breaks the Stanford Cardinal single-game school rushing record in a 34-24 win over the Arizona State Sun Devils.

To the relief of the Stanford Cardinal, Bryce Love could not be contained on a sunny afternoon at Stanford Stadium. He made his presence on the field early, rattling off a 61-yard touchdown run. just 1:33 into the game.

The Cardinal tailback finished the day with a school record 301 yards rushing in a game and three touchdowns. He ran with a purpose every time he got the football, shedding tacklers off him and running down the field.

After a stellar performance, Love should be in the Heisman picture. In just five games, he has rushed for over 1,000 yards. With the power and toughness Love brings, he is indeed drinking his Muscle Milk and not skipping leg day at the gym.

Stanford Cardinal Football
Stanford Cardinal Football /

Stanford Cardinal Football

If Cardinal fans are still reminiscing about Christian McCaffrey, the performance by Love made the former dynamic tailback a distant memory.

Unlike the previous two games where the Cardinal offense relied on Love to carry the team, the passing game made an impact. K.J. Costello made his first career start for Stanford and picked up right where he left off against UCLA.

Costello threw for 173 yards and one touchdown as the Cardinal air attack made their presence known against the Sun Devil’s defense. With Stanford’s wideouts making an appearance, Arizona State was kept off balance, allowing Love to find openings.

All three of Love’s touchdowns came from runs of 40-plus yards. Like the first touchdown scored early in the first quarter, Love struck early again the second quarter. A 43-yard run put Stanford ahead 14-3.

Arizona State struggled with containing Love although the Sun Devils countered with Demario Richard at tailback. Richard gave the Cardinal problems on defense as he slipped through tackles after the first contact. By shaking off tackles, Richard gained positive yardage to keep the Sun Devil’s offense on the field.

Richard was not the only player Stanford could not wrap up. Receiver N’Keal Harry would take direct snaps and avoid defenders to earn a first down. He even got in on the passing attack, throwing a touchdown pass in the first half.

Success by both offenses in the first half appeared to have the game heading for a shootout in the second half. At halftime, Stanford held a 24-17 advantage. The Cardinal could have been up more. After making a catch, Dalton Schultz got the ball stripped when an Arizona State defender recovered the fumble.

But Love continued putting on a show on the opening drive for the Cardinal in the third quarter. On the fifth play of the drive, Love got a block, ran right down the middle and into the open field for a 59-yard scamper to the end zone.

Stanford made the second-half adjustments during halftime which proved pivotal to the team going 3-2 on the season. Arizona State challenged in the first half through the quarterback, Manny Wilkins, and the trickery by Coach Todd Graham with the offense.

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In the end, the Cardinal defense made stops at critical moments in the second half. Two came from the safety, Justin Reid, who picked Wilkins off twice to stall the Sun Devil offense.

With the success of the running game, Stanford could wind the clock down to prevent any comeback by Arizona State.

Wilkins finished with 181 yards passing as the quarterback couldn’t find a consistency to keep Arizona State in the game.

For the first time this season, Stanford’s offense displayed razzle-dazzle with both passing game and running game being effective. Perhaps David Shaw has found the right combination and will no longer resort to the vanilla-style offense seen frequently.

And perhaps Coach Shaw has a new starting quarterback in Costello, as the sophomore looked poised in the pocket. He hit his receivers in tight openings and never appeared under duress. His touchdown came on a 12-yard pass to JJ Arcega-Whiteside, who finished with 63 yards receiving on four receptions.

Keller Chryst did not start for Stanford, and he did not dress for the game. Chryst suffered a concussion last week against UCLA and did not get medical clearance to play.

A trip to Salt Lake City awaits Stanford next week for a game against Utah. The two teams had not met since 2014 when the Utes defeated the Cardinal, 20-17, at Stanford Stadium.

Next: Stanford Faces Arizona State At Home

The power of Love is keeping Stanford in contention for the Pac-12 North Division. His explosiveness is bringing the national spotlight to him, and he will look to continue his strong form.