Bruins take care of business on the farm

PALO ALTO – The UCLA Bruins, led by future hall of fame Head Coach Chip Kelly, marched into Stanford Stadium with one mission: Win The Day. Kelly’s old motto from his time at the helm of the Oregon Ducks was on full display. This time dressed in brand Jordan apparel, swapping blue for his old green, but flanked my many familiar faces from his time in Eugene, Kelly donned his classic visor and was all business.

A narrow loss the previous week to the Fresno State Bulldogs was a thing of the past. As has always been Kelly’s style, the past is in the past and today is all there is, right now. Indeed, UCLA played like last week never happened. Quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson led the Bruins to two early touchdowns and a 14-0 lead. Not to be outshined, the Bruins’ defense held the Cardinal to no fewer than five three-and-outs. The game seemed to be one score away from slipping out of reach for the home team.

However, Kelly wasn’t the only future hall of famer in the house. Stanford Head Coach David Shaw is equally fantastic. His mastery of leadership led to sudden adjustments that got the Cardinal back in the game. A solid drive led to a score, and the game was within reach. However, Kelly and company would not be denied.

Before the first half ended, the Bruins would score again. At 21-7, the Cardinal marched down the field, but were held out of the endzone. A final attempt at a field goal bounced off the crossbar and seemed to sap whatever energy was left.

It wasn’t over though. By early in the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 21. The Cardinal had come back. Shaw’s adjustments were working. Kelly made his own adjustments though, and the Bruins exploded. Despite a field goal that got the Cardinal to 24, Thompson-Robinson stayed focused and delivered. First, a 75-yard bomb for a touchdown, then the defense held the Cardinal to 3. Then the Bruins engineered another drive for a score that put the game away. Kelly did indeed win the day.

Just like that, UCLA went to 3-1 and climbed ever so slightly in the rankings. UCLA dropped to 2-2 and remains a dangerous and underrated opponent.

UCLA returns home to Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California to host the Arizona State University Sun Devils on Saturday at 7:30pm. The game will be broadcast by Fox Sports 1.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, including NCAA football since 2007. Image taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire. Ahsan Awan can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.


Cardinal impress in 24-35 loss to UCLA

PALO ALTO – The Stanford Cardinal may be the most underrated 2-2 team in college football. Saturday’s loss to UCLA was a blip on the radar for a future hall of fame coach, many legitimate future NFL prospects, and a fan base that understands that while winning is fun, football is just a game. When asked about the outcome, one fan who didn’t provide his name said it best, “it doesn’t matter who won the game, the real winners are those who go on to have a great life.”

There’s no question every Cardinal player has the opportunity to have a great life. Perhaps that’s one of the things that makes Stanford different. No matter what happens on the scoreboard, the growth and development obtained through participation, combined with the strength of the institution and the support of the community, is central to the creation of the highest percentage of successful leaders per capita in all of college football.

Stanford is special. From the professionalism of the staff to the quality of the facilities, there’s no place like it. That special feeling was in the air on Saturday when the Cardinal took to the field. Head Coach David Shaw didn’t look a day older. The man literally hasn’t aged in at least half a decade. On the other side of the field was another future hall of fame head coach, UCLA’s Chip Kelly.

Shaw is no stranger to Kelly, and vice versa. Shaw began his coaching tenure at Stanford in 2007. Kelly began his tenure at the University of Oregon at the same time. These two have met on the field many times. There are no surprises. Saturday’s meeting was just two of the greatest coaches in the game doing what they do best, causing one of the most exciting games in football. While Stanford won this meeting 35-24, students, fans and everyone in attendance were treated to the pageantry, magic and gridiron battle that makes college football so great.

The game started slowly for the Cardinal. After 5 three-and-out series, the Cardinal trailed 14-0. Being the future hall of famer that he is, Shaw made adjustments and the Cardinal responded. A solid drive ending in a touchdown many wouldn’t make on Sundays – in air, spun around, over the opponent’s shoulder pad; the perfect grab for 6! It was a thing of beauty, and it seemed like a momentum-turner.

For a moment, it seemed like Stanford found its stride and UCLA didn’t have an answer. They even tied the game at 21 heading into the fourth quarter. However, Bruins quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson was not to be denied. At 18-29 for 251 yards, 2 touchdowns and zero interceptions, he looked great. The thing is, Stanford quarterback Tanner McKee was 19-32 for 293 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions, so he was right there in lock step; in fact, he was better.

The truth is these teams aren’t that far apart. As one UCLA coach explained, “Stanford Stadium is the least hostile in the Pac-12, maybe in the nation.” Don’t blame the 12th man. Stanford students showed up in force. In fact, this may have been a fan attendance record. Someone should’ve kept count.

UCLA hosts Arizona State University on Saturday. Stanford hosts #3 Oregon. The Ducks struggled through the first half against the Arizona Wildcats in Eugene. That was in front of a home crowd. Sure, Stanford Stadium may not be hostile on Saturday, but it’s different. For one thing, it’s real grass. The Ducks are used to playing on artificial turf. More importantly, however, it’s Stanford. It’s David Shaw. It’s the jumbo line and an offense capable of putting points on the board. Last but not least, it’s the pageantry, magic, and poise founded in the knowledge that football is just a game.

No pressure. The Stanford Cardinal host the #3 Oregon Ducks at 12:30pm PST. The game will be televised on ABC.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, including NCAA football since 2007. Image taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire. Ahsan Awan can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.


Stanford, Shaw ready to host Kelly, UCLA

PALO ALTO – Life on The Farm is nothing to complain about. Along with being one of the world’s premier academic institutions and an unrivaled incubator of innovation and entrepreneurialism, Stanford University also boasts some of the finest athletic facilities in the world. Whether you’re playing water polo or football, you can’t go wrong choosing to be part of the Cardinal family.

David Shaw knows this. The former Cardinal wide receiver (1991-1994) has been a Stanford football coach since 2007. He’s been the head coach since 2011. He has a 92-37 win/loss record, three Pac-12 conference championship titles and five Pac-12 north division titles. Say what you may about the Cardinal, but there’s no question the 49-year-old Shaw remains one of the best in the business. A lot more can be said about Coach Shaw. Maybe it’ll find its way into the lead up to his Hall of Fame induction speech one day.

Most experts and pundits agreed that Stanford was entering a rebuilding year. Talent turnover and new blood at critical positions was labeled a strike against the Cardinal’s prospects. A disappointing opening loss to Kansas State seemed to prove them all right. Then came then #14 USC. Through total domination of the Trojans, Coach Shaw and his players engineered and executed one of the most compelling statements of the season: the Cardinal are a force to be reckoned with. They reiterated that the following week with an even more convincing thrashing of SEC member Vanderbilt University.

At 2-1 with a pair of convincing road wins, including one over a top-15 ranked conference opponent, Stanford should be ranked.  Chip Kelly’s UCLA Bruins remain ranked after a loss to an unranked Fresno State team, and the Bruins’ two previous wins were over unranked NP5 University of Hawai’i from the Mountain West Conference, and unranked Louisiana State University from the SEC. With the Bruins heading up to Palo Alto this weekend, Coach Shaw’s Cardinal has the advantage of playing at home. Stanford Stadium can hardly be called hostile, but home is home, and that matters.

129 games into his time at the helm of the Cardinal, David Shaw has amassed 92 wins. He has won more than 71% of the time. He has gone up against Chip Kelly many times over the past decade, and throughout his time as a Stanford coach in any capacity. There should be no surprises, just two very good football coaches leading two very talented teams.

The Stanford Cardinal host the #24 UCLA Bruins on Saturday, September 25 at Stanford Stadium in Palo Alto, CA. Kickoff is currently scheduled for 3:00pm PST, and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network. Following that, the Cardinal host the #3 Oregon Ducks at 12:30pm PST. That game will be televised on ABC.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, including NCAA football since 2007. Image taken by Ahsan Awan for American Presswire. Ahsan Awan can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi.


Cristobal, Ducks ready for conference play

EUGENE – The Oregon Ducks are ready to begin Pac-12 conference play. After three out-of-conference games, the Ducks are 3-0 and ranked #3 in the polls. The last time this happened was 2014. Oregon went on to win the next game, their Pac-12 conference opener, and went on to finish with a #2 ranking after falling to Ohio State in the 2015 national championship game.

Seven years and a couple of head coaches later, here come the Ducks. After a somewhat nerve-racking opening game against a very dangerous and talented Fresno State team that just upset the UCLA Bruins, Oregon traveled to Columbus, Ohio to meet their old national championship foe, Ohio State. In that game, running back Ezekiel Elliott was unstoppable. This time, the tables were turned. Oregon’s CJ Verdel was the one no one could lay a hand on. Oregon won not only the game, but also the distinction of being a team that seemed to have found its heart and stride through the commitment of its players and the culture created by its staff; in particular, head coach Mario Cristobal.

A word about Coach Cristobal – there is no finer coach in college football, possibly in all of college sports. Say what you will about Alabama’s Nick Saban being the most decorated, there’s no disputing that. Coach Saban has cemented his legacy as one of the greatest of all time. Those who know him knew this was his destiny when he was at Michigan State. His time at LSU was just a segue to the place where he will surely be honored with statues and monuments in the future. Cristobal knows this, he’s been there.

Cristobal spent three years at Alabama before coming to Oregon. He spent five years as the head coach at Florida International before that. Not only does he know how to lead and what to do, but he has learned from the best, and that is evident in how his program has evolved in Eugene. In his fourth year at Oregon, Mario Cristobal has won the Pac-12 conference championship twice. He has won the Pac-12 north division title once. Let’s not forget, he won a Sun Belt conference championship over a decade ago (2010), and he – himself – is a two-time national champion and four-year letterman from the University of Miami. The point is, Mario Cristobal is a winner and a champion, he knows what it takes, and his players at the University of Oregon are on board with his way.

While injuries to some key players continues to be an issue, the Ducks appear ready for Arizona. Quarterback Anthony Brown left the game versus Stony Brook with a foot injury but appears ready to go. Ty Thompson stepped up in that contest and proved he’s more than capable of running the offense. Given his productivity, it’s hard to imagine he won’t see time under center again soon. With dynamic duos at both running back and quarterback, a strong receiving corps and an offensive line that has demonstrated the ability to hold off one of the best defenses in college football, Oregon’s prolific offense should fare well this weekend.

While missing key defensive starters like Kayvon Thibodeaux and Justin Flowe, the Ducks have shown they can play and win. Conference play is always a different challenge, but with the advantage of home field, the Ducks should continue to be effective.  Add the return of students and the increased confidence in safety measures implemented due to the coronavirus pandemic, and Autzen Stadium is sure to be a difficult place for the Ducks’ opponents.

The Oregon Ducks host the Arizona Wildcats on Saturday, September 25 at Autzen Stadium in Eugene, Oregon. Kickoff is currently scheduled for 7:30pm PST, and the game will be televised on ESPN.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, including NCAA football since 2007. Image taken by Craig Strobeck. ©2021 Craig Strobeck and approved for use by American Presswire. Ahsan Awan can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi. Craig Strobeck can be found on the web and on Instagram as @cstrobeck.


UCLA Football wins, Chip Kelly is back!

WESTWOOD – Chip Kelly is back! With a 12-21 record entering his fourth season as the Head Coach of the UCLA Bruins football team, the doubters have been silenced as the energy and electricity of UCLA football has returned. After dominating the University of Hawai’i 44-10 to start the season, the Bruins hosted the LSU Tigers in Rose Bowl Stadium in a game many believed would be just another win for the SEC.

Kelly went up against LSU once before. On the tenth anniversary of that unfortunate defeat when he was the Head Coach of the Oregon Ducks, he got his revenge. Having now had sufficient time to transform the talent pool at UCLA to execute his dynamic offense, Kelly led the Bruins to an incredible 38-27 victory at home in Pasadena. The Bruins shocked the nation, and soon after leveraged social media to make it clear they found their swagger.

Kelly also got his voice back. Regarding the shock and surprise after winning, he said exactly what any true fan or follower of Chip would expect, "There wasn't anybody surprised in our locker room… I don't care where you're ranked… nobody cares. So whatever. It is what it is…” Yes! That is exactly THE Chip Kelly known and loved by many probably since the day he was born.

They say leadership trickles down from the top. Focus, attitude, commitment and drive – Kelly leads how he lives, and it’s clear his Bruins get it. The Bruins play a dangerous Fresno State team tonight in Pasadena. Another convincing win will certainly cement what has quickly become the general belief among many: the Pac-12 south division is UCLA’s to lose, and the while the Pac-12 conference championship will be played at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada in December, it is highly likely that winning will require beating UCLA.

The UCLA Bruins host the Fresno State Bulldogs on Saturday, September 18 at Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena, California. Kickoff is currently scheduled for 7:45pm PST, and the game will be televised on the Pac-12 Network.

Ahsan Awan has been covering sports for over a decade, including NCAA football since 2007. Image taken by Shirley McCombs-Swayne. ©2021 Shirley McCombs-Swayne and approved for use by American Presswire. Ahsan Awan can be found on Twitter as @quackarazzi and on Instagram as @quackarazzi. Shirley McCombs-Swayne can be found on Instagram as @shirleymcswayne.