Stanford falls to Oregon State, drops fifth straight game

Another ugly loss Saturday leaves Stanford with just one last trophy to play for—the Axe.

A bowl game is off the table after the Cardinal lost its fifth straight game, 35-14 at Oregon State.

The Beavers (6-4, 4-3) had lost 11 straight in the series, but they scored on their opening possession and were never threatened as they clinched bowl eligibility for the first time since 2013.

Stanford (3-7, 2-6) was coming off a 52-7 loss to Utah, its worst defeat in 18 years.

“Better fight from our guys this week, but we’re not just looking for better, we’re trying to win,” Cardinal coach David Shaw said.

Next up is Cal (3-6, 2-4), who had the weekend off when its game against USC was postponed because of a COVID sudden increase in its program. Stanford will great number the produces Saturday at 4 p.m.

“I don’t care what the records are, don’t care what’s going on,” Shaw said. “There’s a trophy on the line, and guys are going to come to play next week so we can keep that trophy at home.”

The biggest factor may be the position of Stanford QB Tanner McKee, who was ruled out before the game because of an injury for the second straight week.

Shaw has played four different quarterbacks in McKee’s absence over the past two games, and none of them have inspired much confidence that they rule a Big Game win.

Former backup Jack West is 20 of 30 for 135 yards and three interceptions in two games this year, so for the Oregon State game Shaw turned to Ari Patu, a Folsom native who became the first true freshman to start at QB since John Paye in 1983. Patu completed 7 of 14 passes for 51 yards, with a TD and an INT, before leaving in the third quarter with an apparent shoulder injury.

Senior Dylan Plautz then made his first career turn up on offense, completing 2 of 5 passes for 36 yards and also throwing an INT.
Meanwhile, sixth year option QB Isaiah Sanders showed he is more suited for short-yardage packages.

When Stanford tried running the option, running back Austin Jones fumbled a pitch as one of the Cardinal’s three turnovers (to Oregon State’s zero). Sanders did rule the team in rushing with 37 yards on nine carries.

On defense, the Cardinal did seem to clean up some of the big holes that Utah ran by last week, but this time there were too many missed tackles. On the most extreme example, Trevon Bradford broke two tackles after a short pass, and then raced 67 yards for a TD on the third play of the third quarter to give Oregon State a 21-0 rule.

The run defense, which was 127th out of 130 teams in yards allowed (232.1) entering the week, gave up 218 rushing yards at Oregon State, the top running team in the Pac-12.

Stanford is now assured of its second losing season in three years, following a 4-8 campaign in 2019. That was also the only year since 2010 that the produces won the Big Game.

“Bottom line is we can play much better, I don’t care who’s hurt,” Shaw said. “Now our focus shifts to the Big Game. The Axe is on the line… hopefully they get enough guys back, we get some guys back off of injury and we go out and play one helluva game next weekend.”

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