STANFORD, Calif. -- David Shaw's team sputtered again early, but the Cardinal eventually found enough offense to complement a powerful defensive performance in a 31-7 win over UCF. They also showcased some explosive perimeter weapons, as true freshman Bryce Love caught two passes for 135 yards -- including an electrifying 93-yard score.
The home crowd grew restless in the first quarter, when Stanford failed to score while amassing six penalties for 66 yards. It felt like a frustrating continuation of their Week 1 struggles at Northwestern, where the Wildcats held the Cardinal to only two field goals in a 16-6 win.
But Stanford finally found the end zone for the first time this season in the second quarter -- via the flea flicker. Quarterback Kevin Hogan (17-for-29, 341 yards, three touchdowns) delivered a perfect 53-yard strike to Michael Rector, and that would prove to be enough for a defense that forced a pair of turnovers and limited UCF to 2.8 yards per play. The Knights played most of the game with back-up quarterback Bo Schneider after starter Justin Holman left with an early hand injury. Their lone score came against Stanford's reserves with 1:22 remaining.
What this win means for Stanford: Though the Cardinal weren't wholly consistent, they did show they have a pulse and speedy talent on the offensive side of the ball. There was some life in this performance, but not much more can be gleaned from it since it came against a struggling UCF team. Stanford must now prove that it can turn Saturday's spurts of success into more consistent productivity -- on the road against a much better opponent. USC's Cody Kessler awaits, so the Cardinal's sturdy defense is also confronted with a significantly bigger challenge.
What this loss means for UCF: It's been a nightmarish start to 2015 for George O'Leary's club. A week after being stunned at home by Florida International, the Knights lost Holman and were shut down following a cross-country road trip -- the longest such journey for a team in the continental United States this year. UCF will lick its wounds and try to notch their first win of 2015 when Furman visits next week.
Player of the game: Love. The true freshman only touched the ball three times, but he exploded at every opportunity to the tune of 143 all-purpose yards. That's 47.6 yards per touch. Not too shabby, right? The Cardinal have an intriguing perimeter speed threat to complement Christian McCaffrey now, so expect next week's game at USC to feature plenty of offensive speed on the field.
Stat of the game: UCF managed only 125 of total offense over 61 plays against Stanford's defensive starters (2.0 yards per play), fewer than the total Love amassed himself in three plays (143 yards). That statistic illustrates just how lopsided this match-up was.