Nationally No. 5-ranked Stanford has been named the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week for football games of the weekend of Sept. 21 following its 42-28 victory over No. 23 Arizona State, as announced by the Football Writers Association of America.
Stanford (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) built a 29-0 halftime lead on Arizona State (2-1, 0-1 Pac-12) and finished the game with two blocked punts, three sacks, 10 tackles for loss (by 11 different players) and two takeaways. The Cardinal out-rushed the Sun Devils, 240-50, and led 39-7 before yielding 21 unanswered points.
"We took it to them in the first half; they took it back to us in the second half, and that's what we're going to have in our conference," Stanford head coach David Shaw said. "If you have a team down, you better keep going because the team's going to come back. We knew they were going to come back. We just had to make sure we scored more and stopped them at some point in the fourth quarter."
Another Tostitos Fiesta Bowl National Team of the Week nominee for the weekend included Fresno State (3-0).
The Bulldogs, which got 110 receiving yards on 12 receptions from Palo Alto High grad Davante Adams, ended a seven-game losing streak to Boise State with a come-from-behind 41-40 win behind Derek Carr's 460 yards and four touchdowns through the air.
In front of their first sellout crowd since 2008, Fresno State rolled up 522 total yards and scored 40 or more points for the eighth time in its past nine games. The Bulldogs are 3-0 for the first time since 2004.
Smelling the end zone
Ben Gardner could smell the end zone. After blocking a punt Saturday night against Arizona State, he scooped up the ball and lumbered 10 yards before Sun Devil offensive lineman Tyler Sulka dragged him down.
"I hadn't touched the ball since eighth grade," said Gardner, a 6-foot-4, 277-pound fifth-year senior defensive end from Mequen, Wisc.
What kind of runner was he in the eighth grade?
"I used to be a beast," he laughed.
Stanford blocked two punts in the game.
"It's a big deal," said Gardner. "We treat special teams just like the other two phases of the game. We've been fortunate to have great special teams here over the years. Our guys did a great job. If we can keep making splash plays on special teams, it gives our whole team a boost and helps us win field position battles which is the key to winning games."
Reynolds may sit
Stanford could be without All-America free safety Ed Reynolds for the first half of next Saturday night's game against Washington State in Seattle. Early in the fourth quarter against ASU, he was penalized 15 yards for roughing the passer and was also ejected under the new NCAA rule for "targeting." Reynolds appeared to lower his helmet under the chin of quarterback Taylor Kelly.
"We'll see if it's upheld," said Shaw, "From the naked eye, I agree with the officials. We'll go back and look at the film. They'll go back and look at the film. I'll communicate with the head of officials and Pac-12. We don't complain about rules here. The rules are what they are, and we're going to abide by them."
Reynolds had six tackles and broke up a pass.
This Saturday against Washington State will be televised live by ESPN at 7 p.m. The Cougars are 3-1, with their lone loss a 31-24 setback at Auburn in their season-opener. The game will be played at CenturyLink Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks . . . As expected, ASU's no-huddle offense hogged the ball, running 80 plays to Stanford's 66. However, the Sun Devils averaged 5.2 yards per play compared with 5.9 for the Cardinal . . . Stanford entered the game second in the country in third-down conversions and converted 7-of-15 attempts against ASU . . . No Stanford tight end caught a pass in the game . . . Former Stanford All-American and Olympic swimmer Summer Sanders was the honorary game captain.