Stanford football coach David Shaw called the Cardinal’s 21-3 Big Game win over archrival Cal on Saturday “a blueprint game.”
The No. 19 Cardinal blueprint calls for the team to stop the other team’s running game to force the pass, control the game offensively with its running game and score early to force the other team to play catch-up.
The Cardinal did all three things effectively, and, perhaps most importantly, it did it on the road.
Stanford had failed to score an offensive touchdown in either of its previous road games, losses to Washington and Notre Dame, the latter ending when Stepfan Taylor was ruled to have been stopped short of the goal on a fourth-down play in overtime.
The emotion involved in facing Bay Area rival Cal for the 115th time forced the Cardinal to forget that frustration against the Irish.
“The Big Game helped a lot to get over … I don’t know what to call that last play,” Shaw said.
Against Cal, Taylor rushed for a career-high 189 yards, and the Cardinal collected three touchdowns in the first half.
“We were intent on scoring a touchdown,” Shaw said. “You can’t be outscored by your defense on the road.”
Indeed, the Cardinal defense had outscored its offense 14-12 in the previous two road games, and although Stanford was shut out in the second half Saturday, its first-half production was enough for the Cardinal defense.
Cal’s offense had been picking up momentum while winning its last two games, but the Bears were held to a season low in points and were outgained 475-217 by the Cardinal.
More significantly, Cal, which had run the ball well in recent games, managed only three yards on the ground.
The victory kept the Cardinal alive in its bid for the Pac-12 Conference title.