Still searching for Stanford's offense

Originally Published: September 26, 2004
By Brad Edwards | Special to ESPN.com

Someone file a missing persons report.

The guys who wore the uniforms of the Stanford offense in the first half of Saturday's game with USC seem to have disappeared.

It may have been great execution of a game plan by Buddy Teevens' crew in the first half. It may have been tremendous adjustments made by Pete Carroll's staff at halftime. Whatever it was, we saw two halves that didn't seem to equal a whole. It looked more like two totally different games.

A Tale Of Two Halves:
Stanford Offense vs. USC on Saturday
Stats 1st half 2nd half
Points 28 0
Total yards 291 36
First downs 15 2
3rd-down conversions 8-of-10 1-of-6
Time of possession 19:20 11:39
For most of the first 30 minutes, Stanford had its way with one of college football's better defenses and shocked the nation by taking a 28-17 lead into the break. Then, the USC defense simply had the Cardinal for dinner. The Trojans held Stanford to no points and just 36 total yards in the second half, while rallying for a crucial win.

Many things about the game were reminiscent of USC's loss to Cal last season, but this time the Trojans escaped. Now, they can concentrate on the next opponent and not have to worry about the BCS Standings again.

Ty Turns The Tide
Former Stanford coach Tyrone Willingham beat USC the final three times he faced them as a Pac-10 foe. The team he always had trouble with was Washington. Until yesterday, that is. The Huskies were 5-0 against Willingham before his Notre Dame team laid a 38-3 whipping on the dogs Saturday. It was the first time Washington had been held without a touchdown since a 16-3 loss to Arizona in 1992. To make matters worse, the Huskies are now 0-3 for the first time since 1969.

It's Called Balance
When Tennessee's Cedric Houston scored a first-quarter TD against Louisiana Tech on Saturday, it extended an amazing streak. It was the Volunteers' 11th TD of the season, and Houston became the 11th different Vol to reach the end zone. Ponder that for a while -- the first 11 touchdowns of the season scored by 11 different players. The streak was finally broken by wideout C.J. Fayton, who scored his second TD of the year in the second quarter. Not only have the Vols spread the wealth this season, but they have also worked for their points. Tennessee now has 16 TDs on the year and had to drive more than 70 yards to score 14 of them. The shortest TD drive has been 56 yards.

Bad Dawgs!

Lasting Impressions
College GameDay Final's Trev Alberts, Mark May and Rece Davis weigh in with their biggest impressions from Saturday's action.

Trev's Take
Trev AlbertsComing into this season, I thought the ACC was the best conference in America, but it's not. A number of the teams are disappointing to me, and almost all the ones I expected to be strong are being hurt by a lack of production from their quarterback. Miami and Florida State get all of the attention, but Virginia might be the best team in the ACC at this point.

Mark's Take
Mark MayWe don't know what kind of team Stanford is, but you have to give USC a lot of credit for coming from behind on the road to win. Pete Carroll and his staff made all the right adjustments at halftime, and the team responded like champions in the second half. The score may not have been what you'd expect from a No. 1 team against Stanford, but USC showed a lot in winning this game.

Rece's Take
Rece DavisWe talk a lot about BCS Busters, but with all due respect to Fresno State and Utah, Louisville is the one team that really stands out to me right now. At every position, they physically look like a team you'd expect to see in a major conference. I expect them to compete with Miami, and if they can win that game in the Orange Bowl, they'll get more attention than any non-BCS team ever has.
We knew last week that the timing of Mississippi State's trip to Baton Rouge could not have been any worse. The Tigers had some frustration to release after a one-point loss to Auburn, and the Bulldogs' confidence was not exactly at a high level following a home loss to I-AA Maine. The result was a 51-0 LSU win on Saturday, which continued a dreadful stretch of futility for State in the SEC. The Bulldogs have been shut out in three of their last six conference games and have now lost eight straight SEC contests by at least 25 points. Since beating Vanderbilt on Oct. 4, 2003, MSU has been outscored 361-71 in conference play. There is one small item of good news to report for the Bulldogs, however. Vanderbilt is up next.

Jump Around
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Wisconsin, which held Penn State to three points on Saturday and has given up seven or fewer to each of its four opponents this season. The last Wisconsin team to allow a TD or less in four straight games was the 1951 squad, which did it to end the season. But the star of the game for the Badgers -- at least to the fans at Camp Randall Stadium -- was not a defensive player. Fullback Matt Bernstein, who had never carried the ball more than six times in a game, was forced to play tailback because of injuries to his teammates and rushed for 123 yards on 27 attempts. Even more impressive is that Bernstein, who is Jewish, did this on an empty stomach. He did not participate in pregame warm-ups and took the field only after he had completed a 24-hour fast in observance of Yom Kippur.

Memphis Blues
While one streak began, another one ended. DeAngelo Williams of Memphis had rushed for 100 yards or more in 13 straight games before being held to 92 in a loss to UAB on Saturday. He actually gained 100 yards, but he was tackled behind the line a few times for losses totaling eight yards. The longest such streak now belongs to Minnesota's Laurence Maroney, who is the only player in the country with consecutive 100-yard games dating back to last year. Maroney has surpassed 100 yards on the ground in all four games this season after running for 131 in the Sun Bowl.

Helmet Stickers
Trev:
Matt Bernstein, Wisconsin: 27 carries, 123 yds vs. Penn State.
Erasmus James, Wisconsin: fumble recovery, 2 sacks vs. Penn State.
Aaron Polanco, Navy: 14-19 passing, 260 total yds, 2 TD vs. Vanderbilt.

Mark:
Brady Quinn, Notre Dame: 4 first-half TD passes vs. Washington.
Ciatrick Fason, Florida: 253 yds from scrimmage, 2 TD vs. Kentucky.

Rece:
Justin Miller, Clemson: NCAA-record 282 kickoff return yds, 2 TD vs. FSU
Reggie Bush, USC: 240 all-purpose yds, TD vs. Stanford.

Brad Edwards is the research coordinator for College GameDay Final and is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. College GameDay Final airs during the season at Midnight ET.

• Analyzes college football and the CFB Playoff as part of ESPN's Stats & Information Group
• Analyst for both College GameDay on ESPN Radio and the ESPN College Football app

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