|Stepfan Taylor picks up the slack for Stanford with 124 yards on the ground. (US Presswire)|
STANFORD WON: Senior Cardinal running back Stepfan Taylor rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries to lead No. 18 Stanford to a hard-fought 20-17 win over San Jose State. What looked like a Cardinal blowout in the early going turned into a nailbiter as the Spartans rallied from a 17-3 halftime deficit to tie the game at 17 heading into the fourth quarter. SJSU quarterback David Fales was 24 of 35 for 216 yards with one touchdown and one interception and the Spartan defense held the Stanford offense to just 287 total yards. Cardinal quarterback Josh Nunes was 16 of 26 for 124 yards and one touchdown in his debut as Andrew Luck's successor. The Stanford defense held SJSU to 63 rushing yards. All in all, this was two teams still working out the early-season kinks in a tight, ugly game.
WHY STANFORD WON: Jordan Williamson's early fourth-quarter field goal provided the point differential, but it was the Cardinal defense that came up big in the end. After allowing 163 yards and two touchdowns in the third quarter alone, it clamped down hard in the fourth, allowing just four yards to San Jose State while sacking Fales twice.
WHEN STANFORD WON: This one wasn't over until safety Ed Reynolds intercepted Fales' fourth down pass with just over a minute to play. Up until that point, San Jose State was very much within striking distance.
WHAT STANFORD WON: A healthy dose of reality moving forward. The notion that Stanford's offense would maintain continuity despite losing the likes of Luck, tight end Coby Fleener and linemen Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro to the early rounds of the NFL draft now looks like a fantasy. Also, there are still major issues in the secondary. This is a young team and it's going to take time to become a force.
WHAT SAN JOSE STATE LOST: A chance to pull off a huge upset over a local rival. The Spartans acquitted themselves well, for sure, but there are no moral victories. Still, it augurs well for the season ahead and San Jose State could be headed for its first bowl since 2006.
THAT WAS CRAZY: Stanford had just 15 three-and-outs during the entire 2011 season. On Friday night, San Jose State forced the Cardinal into four three-and-outs.