Stanford's standing improves in BCS chaos

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Stanford's standing improves in BCS chaos

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David Shaw called Stanfords 27-23 win over Oregon State Shakespearean, and in doing so laughed and said, Just trying to hide my Stanford education.

RECAP: Stanford tops OSU 27-23

But to be fair, at the time he said that, he was (a) focused on his own teams harrowing escape over the Beavers, (b) the redemptive efforts of running back, Stepfan Taylor, tight end Zach Ertz and quarterback Kevin Hogan, and (c) unaware that Deshazor Everett had actually thrown the BCS picture in a much less lyrical direction.

Hogan is the first-time starter at quarterback who became a veteran in four easy steps. Ertz is the senior tight end who fumbled early and scored late to put the Cardinals on their heels and then back on their toes. Taylor is the top-five running back who got stripped in the second quarter and then left Oregon State naked at the end of the third.

And Everett is the Texas A&M cornerback who intercepted the last pass of Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron to preserve the Aggiess stunning 29-24 upset of the top-ranked Crimson Tide, and turn the entire BCSRose Bowl picture into a delicious and messy soup.

RECAP: No. 15 Texas A&M stun No. 1 Bama

And therein lies the true beauty of Stanfords resurgence into a national player. What they do is not merely a matter of entertaining the locals and warming the hearts of the parents. Their games create ripples that touch other teams, and other teams create ripples that touch them.

In this case, the Cardinal beat Oregon State, which moves them further toward the BCS conversation, which for them means a Rose Bowl berth. And Alabamas loss enhances Oregons chances of playing in the BCS title game. And if Notre Dame wins out, that makes it easier for Stanford to go to the Rose Bowl, even if it loses in Eugene next week.

Got it? Of course you dont. Nobody does. Stepfan Taylor, the hyper-elite Stanford running back, didnt even know that if the Cardinal beat Oregon next week and UCLA in two weeks that it could host the Pac-12 title game. He thought his 154 total yards and two touchdowns -- including his electrifying 40-yard catchrunevadestraight-armevade some morerun some more touchdown at the end of the third quarter -- were his last stand at Stanford Stadium.

Shakespeare? Shakespeare never got drunk enough to write this synopsis.

Shaw didnt even try to sort out the national ramifications. He was exchanging pleasantries with former coach Ted Tollner, now working for the Holiday Bowl, while hoping all along not to have to talk to him again until next year at the earliest.

That was when he wasnt praising Hogan, the sophomore quarterback who has in no time flat earned enough confidence that Shaw said he changed about 40 percent of the plays at the line, which is a remarkable number, against Oregon State.

Hes earned our trust, Shaw said of Hogan. When you start a new guy at quarterback early in the week, we knew he could handle quite a bit, but we didnt know how much. But by the end of the week, we knew we could give him the ability to change protections, change runs to passes, passes to runs.

He changed the play call on the Ertz touchdown at the line, and improvised the flip to Taylor. He looked like he should have been honored as a senior on their final regular season home game.

But it was also a game that showed Stanford at its worst, turning the ball over four times and taking eight penalties. In some ways, they were lucky to win the game at all, and had OSU quarterback Cody Vaz not actually stripped himself with 8:34 to play, Stanford might not have had the chance to win the game on Hogans 13-yard pass to Ertz.

In other words, the Cardinal were lucky to overcome themselves and the Beavers to escape a fate they had set for themselves by blowing an early two-touchdown lead.

But luck works in all directions, as the Giants can attest, and Stanford didnt let their misfortunes trump their ability to take advantage of Oregon States misfortunes, and in the narrow window the squeeze through to become a national college football factor, thats as good as being out-and-out lucky.

So it goes. Stanford is in better position to make the Rose Bowl than they were a week ago, much better position. They benefit from their own work and Texas A&Ms, and actually can only be helped by the continued successes of Oregon and Notre Dame, whereas a week ago, they needed just the opposite.

So Billy Don Shakespeare may be able to explain Ertz and Hogan and Taylor and the Cardinal giving up 23 unanswered points in the middle of a game they otherwise won, 27-0. But Shakespeare ends up having less to do with the big picture than J.K. Rowling.

You know. Someone with a much bigger imagination, and the ability to make serious bank on it.

Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

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Hermanson scores 17, No. 22 Saint Mary's beats BYU 70-57

PROVO, Utah — Saint Mary's knows all about the raucous atmosphere at BYU. The Gaels hadn't won in Provo since 2013 and had only come out on top in three of their previous 12 trips.

Make it four out of 13.

Calvin Hermanson scored 17 points and No. 22 Saint Mary's cruised to a 70-57 victory over BYU on Saturday night, snapping a three-game road losing streak to its West Coast Conference rival.

"It's definitely one of the tougher places to play for us," Hermanson said. "Coming in here we know it's a huge crowd and we know they can get riled up on any 3-point shot or any run they make. We wanted to try to limit their runs and their big plays.

"The second half was pretty unbelievable how quiet the crowd was. It felt great for us."

With two games remaining on the regular-season schedule, the Gaels (24-3, 14-2) clinched a second-place finish in the conference standings behind top-ranked and undefeated Gonzaga.

Saint Mary's controlled the game most of the night, riding its staunch defense on one end and running efficient offense on the other. The Gaels were able to get to the rim consistently, but also knocked down 10 3-pointers.

BYU (19-10, 10-6) shot 39.7 percent from the field and connected on four 3s.

Evan Fitzner had 15 points for Saint Mary's, including 11 in the second half.

"We didn't turn the ball over and we shot the ball well," Gaels coach Randy Bennett said, "and were able to get some separation and then it made it tough on them. We kind of just wore them out after that.

"We're a little different team with Fitzner out there. He spaces the floor," Bennett added. "We just play a little different with Fitzner out there versus Jock (Landale). It's nice to have a Plan A and Plan B."

Saint Mary's took a 41-30 lead into halftime thanks to Hermanson's hot shooting and plenty of that trademark defense. The Gaels began the day ranked second in the nation in scoring defense, then held the Cougars to 37.9 percent shooting from the field in the first 20 minutes.

Saint Mary's shot 57.1 percent at the other end, including a 3-for-4 effort from Hermanson from behind the arc.

"I feel like we're better than we showed tonight," BYU guard TJ Haws said. "That team made a lot of runs on us. Tough defensive and offensive team. Very poised and disciplined.

"I want our team to just fight. When they punch us in the face, I want us to punch them right back."

BYU kept Landale under control in the half — and in foul trouble throughout — but Saint Mary's scored 22 of its 41 first-half points in the paint.

Eric Mika had 18 points for BYU, and Yoeli Childs added 13.

"The key to the game was that they were comfortable the entire time in our gym," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "That's on us. We need to be ahead. We need to get them to speed up a little bit because they're a little bit uncomfortable.

"But the game went pretty much exactly how they wanted it to go and we couldn't flip it. We couldn't get on top."

BIG PICTURE

Saint Mary's: The Gaels will be the No. 2 seed in the WCC tournament. No. 1 Gonzaga secured the regular-season title Saturday with a win over Pacific. An early December defeat to UT-Arlington is the Gaels' only bad loss this season, with the other two coming against Gonzaga.

BYU: The Cougars likely needed a win against the No. 22 team in the country to make an argument for the NCAA Tournament off their regular-season credentials. BYU has lost all three games against ranked opponents by double digits, including to Saint Mary's twice, and doesn't have a signature win. The Cougars get one last chance against Gonzaga next Saturday.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

No. 22 Saint Mary's might find itself moving up a bit after No. 17 Florida State and No. 21 South Carolina lost on Saturday.

UP NEXT

Saint Mary's: Travel to face Pepperdine on Thursday.

BYU: Play at Portland on Thursday.

Pickens, Travis rally Stanford past rival Cal for upset win

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Pickens, Travis rally Stanford past rival Cal for upset win

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STANFORD -- Dorian Pickens scored 23 points, Reid Travis had 19 with nine rebounds and Stanford held on to beat California 73-68 on Friday night.

Marcus Allen added 11 points for the Cardinal, who overcame an early 12-point deficit to beat their cross-bay rivals for the 21st time in the last 24 meetings between the two teams at Maples Pavilion.

Stanford (13-13, 5-9 Pac-12) won for only the second time in seven games and split the season series with California.

Pickens had nine points, including a pair of 3-pointers, as part of a 20-5 run in the second half when the Cardinal pulled away.

After California closed within 62-56 on Grant Mullins' 3-pointer with 4:54 remaining, Allen made two free throws and Pickens scored on a jumper from the free-throw line as he was falling backward onto the court.

Jabari Bird scored 23 points and set a career-high with seven 3s for the Golden Bears (18-8, 9-5). Ivan Rabb added 16 points and 13 rebounds after being slowed by foul trouble in the first half.