9/25/21 PALO ALTO, CA - The 24th ranked UCLA Bruins (3-1) traveled to The Farm and gave the Stanford Cardinal (2-2) a reality check in a very competitive 35-24 victory.
You saw two different philosophical approaches to football on display. It was the Bruins' speed versus the traditional power attack of the Cardinals.
In the first half, UCLA's defense was too fast for the Stanford offense. The Bruins committed to stuffing the run and not allowing wide receivers to get open. Stanford only amassed 67 rushing yards for the entire evening.
Conversely, UCLA used head coach Chip Kelly's traditional quick tempo offense to move up and down the field.
UCLA scored three rushing touchdowns from inside the Cardinal's 5-yard line, moving the ball up and down the field in a quick tempo offense. UCLA took a 21-7 lead into halftime when Dorian Thompson-Robinson (QB) scored on a two-yard touchdown run.
The second half was about coaching adjustments. Stanford head coach David Shaw is the winningest coach in program history and the longest-tenured Black head coach in FBS history. You don't win 90 games in the last ten years being able to adjust the game plan.
Shaw took advantage of UCLA's commitment to stopping the run and dialed up big passing plays over the middle. Tanner McKee threw two bombs over 50 yards to wide receivers Bryce Farrell and Elijah Higgins.
Stanford tied the game 21-21 in the fourth quarter after McKee threw a 56-yard touchdown pass to Stan Higgins. Mckee finished 19-32, 293 yards, and three touchdowns on the evening.
In the fourth quarter, Thompson-Robinson was taking off the field after a crushing blow. With 2:30 left in the game, Thompson-Robinson, found Kyle Phillips sliding in the corner of the endzone for a game-sealing touchdown.
Phillips' speed had impacted the game as a punt returner and wideout. Phillips had five catches, 120 yards, and two touchdowns. He also averaged 24 yards on three punt returns. After the game, Chip Kelly praised his quarterback's toughness.
Kelly said, "The one thing that I don't think gets mentioned enough with Dorian is how tough he is…and he's been tough from the get-go."
Kelly also praised Coach Shaw's team for trying to overcome recent injuries to key players. The Cardinals struggled to move the ball on the ground without injured running back Austin Jones, Casey Filkins, and E.J. Smith.
Although disappointed in the loss, it was Stanford's first home game with fans in 665 days. Shaw appeared to maintain a healthy spirit.
"It's not even a question for me," Shaw said. "Talk all the analytics you want. Analytics don't matter. Football matters. One-score game with nine minutes to go, and that's what we did."