Stanford rarely wins pretty. In the last two years, though, the Cardinal just always seem to win.
Fifth-ranked Stanford survived for its 13th straight victory in similar fashion late Saturday night, withstanding Keith Price’s prolific passing performance in a 31-28 win over then-No. 15 Washington. Stanford (5-0, 3-0) showed that the same kind of might and muscle that propelled the program to a Pac-12 Conference title and a Rose Bowl victory last season might be good enough to contend for another conference championship and maybe even more.
“We are a tough, mentally tough team, which of all the things you can ask for as a coach, that’s what you want,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “You want guys that don’t blink.” Shaw should know.
In the last two years, Stanford is 7-1 in games decided by six points or fewer. The only other loss during that stretch was a 20-13 overtime defeat in a controversial finish at Notre Dame early last season at Washington while the Cardinal were still transitioning to life without Andrew Luck.
The rematch was another game Stanford did just enough to win. Washington’s offense outgained Stanford’s 489 to 284 yards. The Huskies had 30 first downs, while the Cardinal finished with 14. And both quarterbacks threw one interception.
The difference? Special teams.
Ty Montgomery had a school-record 290 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns. He caught three passes for 56 yards, ran 30 yards on two carries and racked up 204 yards returning kicks, including going 99 yards on the opening kickoff to put the Huskies (4-1, 1-1) behind for the first time all season and keep them there every time the game got close.
“We showed that we can stand in there and we can finish a game and win in a fight if we have to,” said Montgomery.
Stanford vs. Utah
WHEN: Saturday, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Rice Eccles Stadium, Salt Lake City
TV: Pac-12 Network