Stanford's Love takes first football start in stride


Bryce Love is low-key and inherently polite.

Friday, when he learned his first collegiate start would come at sold-out Notre Dame Stadium in a nationally-televised, prime-time game against the Fighting Irish, he didn't flinch.

"Okay," he replied to David Shaw, Stanford's Director of Football.

If Love felt added pressure replacing 2015 AP Player of the Year Christian McCaffrey on the big stage, it didn't show.

"I didn't really feel much of that," he said after sparking Stanford to a 17-10 victory on Saturday night. "Just got to go out there and do my one-eleventh. My boys will take care of the rest."

Showcasing power and speed, the 5-10, 189-pound sophomore from Wake Forest, North Carolina, ran for 129 yards on 23 carries. He appeared to score the Cardinal's lone offensive touchdown with 10:38 remaining to give Stanford its first lead, but was ruled to have fumbled at the 1.

The ball rolled into the back of the end zone, where wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside out-wrestled two Irish defenders and was awarded the touchdown.

It was confusing, to say the least.

Replays seemed to indicate Love's knee touched near the 1 and that he broke the plane of the goal line by stretching out the ball before losing it. After a long review, Arcega-Whiteside's heads-up play proved enormous.

Slowed by an early-season injury, Love picked the right time for a breakout performance. With fullback Chris Harrell often paving the way, he ran for 38 yards on the touchdown drive and helped keep the chains moving on Stanford's final possession, running six times for 31 as offense chewed nearly five minutes off the clock.

"Bryce is an every down back," said Shaw. "He's physical, runs through tackles and can push the pile. We knew what we had."

Love became more comfortable as the game progressed and found his rhythm behind a resurgent offensive line.

"It's one thing to be on the sidelines, waiting, knowing you're going to go in," he said. "Being out there drive after drive, you start to see some tendencies and it's a lot easier."

The Cardinal also got a huge lift from sophomore cornerback Quenton Meeks, who returned to the starting lineup after missing the past two games with an injury. His pick-six early in the third quarter jump-started Stanford, who outscored Notre Dame 17-0 in the second half.

"Every time I get my hands on the ball I'm trying to go to the end zone," said Meeks.

It was his second collegiate touchdown, with Meeks returning an interception 66 yards against Iowa in the Rose Bowl Game last January.

Shaw credited Lance Anderson, the Director of Defense, for preparing and coaching his players. The 10 points allowed were the fewest by Notre Dame in the 31-game series.

"Lance did an outstanding job," said Shaw.

Notre Dame converted only five of 14 times on third down.

Stanford (3-2) hosts Colorado (5-2) on Reunion Homecoming on Saturday at noon. The Buffaloes defeated Arizona State, 40-16, and are tied for first with Utah in the Pac-12 South.

Phillip Lindsay ran for 219 yards and three touchdowns in Colorado's most recent win, while Sefo Liufau threw for 265. Zane Gonzalez booted field goals of 50, 51 and 59 yards to equal an FBS record for most 50-plus yard field goals in a game.

Saturday will mark only the fourth meeting since 2011, with the Cardinal sweeping and outscoring the Buffs, 138-17.

Last year in Boulder, Stanford won 42-10. Playing in his home state for first time as a collegian, McCaffrey accumulated 220 all-purpose yards and capped his day by throwing a 28-yard touchdown pass to tight end Austin Hooper on the first play of the fourth quarter. The Cardinal out-rushed Colorado, 275-83, and finished with a 16-minute time of possession advantage.

The Buffaloes are much-improved under fourth-year head coach Mike MacIntyre. He arrived in Boulder in 2012, after leading San Jose State to its first 10-win season in 25 years (11-2).

Stanford and Colorado have played one common opponent: USC. The Cardinal prevailed at home, 27-10, while the Buffs fell in Los Angeles, 21-17.

Halfway through the season, Stanford's first six opponents have a combined record of 22-17 (Kansas State is 3-3, USC is 4-3, UCLA is 3-4, Washington is 6-0, Washington State is 4-2 and Notre Dame is 2-5).

The remaining six teams have posted a 14-22 mark (Colorado is 5-2, Arizona is 2-4, Oregon State is 2-4, Oregon is 2-4, Cal is 3-3 and Rice is 0-5).

Extra Points ... Shaw called McCaffrey "questionable" for Colorado ... Arcega-Whiteside has now scored a touchdown in four straight games ... With two interceptions, the Cardinal has eight in its past seven games ...Tight end Greg Taboada returned to action and caught one pass for 21 yards ... The 27 combined points matched the fewest in series history, dating to 1942, when Notre Dame prevailed, 27-0 ... After playing six consecutive night contests, Stanford returns home for a noon start Saturday against Colorado. It's the earliest kickoff since a 1 p.m. start against UC Davis in 2014 ... Ron Johnson '80, founder and CEO of Enjoy, served as Stanford's honorary captain ... Stanford will recognize its 50th reunion class prior to Saturday's game.

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Like this comment
Posted by Doug
a resident of another community
on Oct 18, 2016 at 2:30 pm

The explanation from the referee wasn't clear, but Love was in fact credited with the touchdown. Web Link

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