Stanford Football: Cardinal lose must-win game to the lowly UCLA Bruins

Stanford Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Stanford Football (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) /

The Stanford football program suffered their fourth loss of the season in a must-win game against the lowly UCLA Bruins in Thursday night’s Pac-12 matchup.

The Stanford football program has hit a new low in what has been a very difficult 2019 campaign. Just one week after upsetting the No. 15 ranked Washington Huskies, the Cardinal fell short against the lowly UCLA Bruins at home Thursday night.

And they didn’t just fall short, they were handily beaten.

The Bruins entered the game riding an 11-game losing streak against Stanford and sat at just 1-5 in Chip Kelly‘s second year as head coach. As for Stanford, it had been a tough season to this point but their victory over Washington gave hope for a brighter future.

But any hope and optimism were quickly swept away following a brutally ugly offensive performance that saw the team net just 198 yards of total offense.

The Cardinal were dealt a serious blow when it was announced prior to the game that quarterback Davis Mills would miss Thursday’s contest with an injury leaving Stanford to rely on their third-string quarterback, sophomore Jack West.

This marked the first time since 1974 that the Cardinal had played three different quarterbacks in a season emphasizing their woeful injury struggles. And playing behind an offensive line decimating by injuries — and starting three freshmen — West predictably struggled.

The Alabama native completed under 50% of his passes and threw for just 143 yards on the night. Running back Cameron Scarlett — the Pac-12’s leading rusher entering the game — struggled as well facing a stacked box for most of the game.

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Scarlett rushed for just 34 yards on 13 carries as the entirety of Stanford’s offense was a disaster. The offensive line struggled, the passing game was a mess, and the running game was non-existent.

And after UCLA jumped out to a quick 21-10 first-half lead, there was little chance that Stanford would be able to muster up a second-half comeback. Again, this was against a UCLA team that’s among the worst Power-5 programs in the nation.

West clearly wasn’t ready for this position and he certainly wasn’t helped by a shoddy offensive line also playing above their experience levels. And even against a poor UCLA team, Stanford looked like they had no business being on the same field.

So where does this team go from here?

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For starters, they need to return their starters. Pun very much intended.

Whether it’s Mills or K.J. Costello, Stanford must hope and beg for the return of one of their top two quarterbacks. Costello has battled injuries all season and has struggled when on the field.

Unfortunately, Mills seemed to finally be coming into his own before suffering a leg injury that forced him to miss this week. If West is forced into action for any more games, it could be a wrap on Stanford’s season.

The Cardinal must win three of their final five games to qualify for a bowl game and even with Mills or Costello under center that seems difficult. Road tilts against Colorado and Washington State seem difficult and you could almost assuredly chalk up a loss in their final game against Notre Dame.

Even their final two home games — aside from the game against Notre Dame — against both Arizona and Cal aren’t exactly cakewalks either. In fact, Stanford will likely be underdogs in each of their five remaining contests — especially if West is asked to start.

At this point, a bowl bid seems unlikely at best unless something drastically changes for the Cardinal.

Next. Stanford Football: Top 3 takeaways following upset win over No. 15 Washington. dark

The Stanford football program has long been one of the most consistent programs in all of the FBS. Unfortunately, their decade long bowl streak may just come to an end after 10 glorious seasons.