Stanford 37 Arizona 10: That's gotta hurt

2011-09-18T00:00:00Z 2012-11-30T13:47:27Z Stanford 37 Arizona 10: That's gotta hurtRyan Finley Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
September 18, 2011 12:00 am  • 

The college football landscape will likely be completely different the next time Arizona and Stanford play. The teams could be part of a new Pac-16 Conference or, if Saturday's rumblings about nationwide realignment prove true, competitors in a changed, fresh future.

By then, maybe the Arizona Wildcats will have found a place-kicker.

Sixth-ranked Stanford put up 567 yards of total offense and took advantage of two missed field goal attempts by UA kicker Jaime Salazar on the way to a 37-10 win before 49,636 at Arizona Stadium. The 27-point loss was the worst at Arizona Stadium since Oct. 23, 2004, when Cal beat the UA 38-0.

Following the game, UA coach Mike Stoops said senior Alex Zendejas will likely start next week against Oregon.

"We'll see if Alex gives us some better chances," he said. "We've got to give him a chance to get back in there."

Arizona's first-ever Pac-12 Conference game looked a lot like its final Pac-10 game, an overtime loss to rival Arizona State last December.

The Wildcats passed like crazy, put up some impressive yards - and missed kicks when they needed to hit them. The resulting blowout to Stanford was surprising only in the way it occurred.

Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck threw for two touchdowns and Stepfan Taylor rushed for a career-high 153 yards. Stanford was without two of its best players: tight end Coby Fleener appeared to suffer a concussion in the first quarter, and did not return. Linebacker Shayne Skov left in the second quarter with an apparent knee injury.

Arizona tried to take advantage of its short-handed opponent, but went - naturally - well wide of their goal.

Twice, Salazar missed field goals that would have cut Stanford's lead to 16-13. He went wide on a 45-yarder on the final play of the first half and a 36-yarder at the end of the UA's first drive of the second half.

So far this season, Salazar - a junior college transfer who beat out Zendejas in training camp - is 1 for 4 on field goals. He has also missed an extra point.

"Those are points we need," quarterback Nick Foles said. "It's like missing a wide-open layup. We have to figure that out."

In fairness, there was plenty of blame to go around Saturday.

Arizona's defense played tough against Stanford's physical front, but was left vulnerable to the deep play. Twice, Luck and tight end Levine Toilolo made them pay. With the Cardinal facing a third-and-one and holding a 16-10 lead in the third quarter, Luck called a play-action pass. Toilolo, running alone down the sideline, caught the high-arcing pass with ease and cruised 39 yards to the Wildcats' 33. Luck ran for 15 yards on the next play, and - after a few short gains - hit tight end Zach Ertz for a 16-yard touchdown pass, making it 23-10.

Luck and Toilolo teamed up again on the first play of the fourth quarter, essentially ending the game. Stanford packed the line on another third-and-short play, Luck rolled out and found Toilolo for a 34-yard score.

"The tight ends have played very well, and we helped each other out tonight," Toilolo said.

Add in a few other mistakes - like Arizona's Hank Hobson lining up in the neutral zone on a Stanford punt, giving the Cardinal a first down - and the Wildcats were doomed.

Foles kept the UA in the game early, completing his first 17 pass attempts before falling into a 1-for-8 rut. Foles, who entered the game as the nation's leading passer, completed 24 of 33 passes for 239 yards.

Juron Criner was his favorite target, catching six passes for 48 yards and a score just 12 days after undergoing an appendectomy at a Tucson hospital. Criner caught a 6-yard touchdown from Foles in the second quarter that cut Stanford's lead to three points.

But then the demons returned.

Cornerback Trevin Wade appeared to intercept Luck on Arizona's 2-yard line, ending the Cardinal's second drive of the game. But referees ruled that Wade juggled the catch, and Stanford's Jordan Williamson hit a 20-yard field goal - his first of three converted kicks.

"That was a pick, I don't care what anybody says," Wade said afterward.

With Arizona trailing in the fourth quarter, Criner rolled over a pile, kept his balance and went for what appeared to be an 80-yard touchdown. But the official review showed that his elbow hit the ground, and the score was negated. The Wildcats had to settle for a 9-yard gain.

Sitting in a cramped conference room 30 minutes after the final gun, Stoops hoarsely tried to diagnose the Wildcats' problems.

Few people heard him: Just outside the window, Stanford's infamous marching band blasted a song, Green Day's "Welcome to Paradise."

More like hell.

"It's real frustrating, especially when a lot of people are doing things right," Wade said. "You've just got to keep on pushing the other guys and stay positive."

Up next

• What: Oregon at Arizona

• When: 7:15 p.m. Saturday

• TV; radio: ESPN or ESPN2; 1290-AM, 107.5-FM, 990-AM (Sp)

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