STANFORD, Calif. -- In the weekend's only matchup of ranked teams, No. 5 Stanford jumped out to a big lead and coasted to a 42-28 win against No. 23 Arizona State. Here's how it went down:
It was over when: Stanford DE Ben Gardner blocked a pooch-punt attempt from ASU QB Taylor Kelly with the Cardinal leading 32-7 late in the third quarter. One play later, RB Tyler Gaffney scored from 16 yards out to give Stanford a 39-7 lead with 37 seconds left in the quarter.
The Sun Devils turned in a valiant comeback attempt, but the deficit was too big to overcome.
Game ball goes to: Stanford DE Josh Mauro. Making his first career start, the fifth-year senior had an interception and 25-yard return and a sack.
Stat of the game: Arizona State players who had punts blocked: Two. In addition to Kelly's blocked pooch, punter Matt Haack had one blocked, too. His, however, was unique in that it wasn't touched by a Stanford player.
Haack punted it into the back of a teammate, then proceeded to kick it out of the back of the end zone for a safety.
What Stanford learned: Keeping the play calling simple was a good plan. The Cardinal was vanilla in wins against San Jose State and Army to begin the year, only to breakout several unseen looks against Arizona State. Stanford moved the ball at will in the first half before sitting on it for most of the second half.
What Arizona State learned: The Sun Devils aren't ready to be considered serious challengers in the Pac-12. They need to find a cure for the "dropsies" and, at least against a team like Stanford, have to find more balance offensively. The loss did nothing to diminish their chances at winning the South, but does show how far they have to go long-term.
Reynolds ejected: Stanford All-American S Ed Reynolds was ejected in the fourth quarter for targeting. He will be forced to sit out the first half of Stanford's game next week against Washington State in Seattle.
What it means: Stanford is every bit the national title contender it was billed as before the year began. The final score isn't a clear indicator of just how dominant the Cardinal was. Stanford led 29-0 at halftime and was in run-out-the-clock mode with reserves rotating in on both sides of the ball for most of the second half.