Duck Duck Goose
Stanford overcame injury and a 14-point deficit to snap an Oregon winning streak
While his teammates whooped and celebrated around him on the field at Oregon's Autzen Stadium last Saturday, Stanford senior kicker Mike Biselli wept openly. The Cardinal had just ended the Ducks' 23-game home winning streak, erasing a two-touchdown, fourth-quarter deficit to win 49-42.
So why was Biselli crying? Was he upset by the uneven performance of Stanford's special teams, which allowed a PAT kick to be blocked, missed a field goal and gave up a pair of touchdowns, one on a punt return and the other on a kickoff return? Nope. After all, the Cardinal's special teams did a few things right, too: Stanford's fifth touchdown was set up by the second of two blocked punts, and its penultimate touchdown was preceded by Biselli's perfectly placed onside kick, which was caught on the fly by safety Colin Branch with 9:16 remaining and the Cardinal trailing 42-35.
"I wanted us to win this one for Randy [Fasani]," said Biselli of his best friend, the Stanford quarterback who was knocked out of the game with a sprained right knee early in the second quarter. Fasani and his Oregon counterpart, Joey Harrington, had presided over an enormously entertaining first quarter in which the two offenses combined for 392 yards and five touchdowns. Fasani's replacement, Chris Lewis, had a tougher time against the Ducks' blitzes, completing only three of his first 10 passes.
He hung in there, though. Lewis, a junior from Long Beach, Calif., doesn't lack confidence. Subbing for an injured Fasani last season, he led Stanford to wins over Texas and USC with last-minute touchdown passes. "Pressure doesn't bother me," says Lewis. "My sister [Robyn, a senior setter for the Cardinal's women's volleyball team] and I are the same way. Our mom and dad always told us that, no matter what happens, they were still going to love us. So there's no pressure. Just go out and play."
Lewis did exactly that in the second half, throwing touchdown passes to wideouts Teyo Johnson and Luke Powell, and directing a pair of eight-play drives in which running back Kerry Carter scored the last of his four touchdowns. Give Lewis credit, too, for running the offense in one of the most hostile environments in the country.
The defeat ended Oregon's national title hopes. The Ducks had come into the game 6-0 and ranked No. 5, but they had been living dangerously. Three times this season they'd needed fourth-quarter comebacks led by Harrington, but he ran out of magic on Saturday. After completing 13 of his first 18 passes for 203 yards and three touchdowns, he fell to earth. He went nine for 23 with a pair of interceptions in the second half. When his final, desperation heave went incomplete, a group of giddy Stanford players made light of the Autzen mystique, dancing and chanting at midfield: "Whose house? Cardinal's house!"
Having knocked one team from the ranks of the unbeaten, the Cardinal will attempt to do it again this Saturday, when it hosts 6-0 UCLA. Fasani won't play (he's expected to be out for at least three weeks), and the Bruins will be favored. No matter. Don't expect Stanford to be intimidated.
Texas Tech's Leading Man
Ricky Williams Is Catching On
He burst onto the scene in 1997, a slighter, slipperier version of a more celebrated Texas tailback of the same name. Four years later Ricky Williams's claim to fame isn't as a ballcarrier for Texas Tech but as one of the nation's leaders in receptions per game. Including last Saturday's 41-31 loss to Nebraska, in which he caught five passes for 18 yards, Williams is averaging 7.7 receptions, tied for second behind wideout Kevin Curtis of Utah State (9.8 per game). Should Williams finish the season atop the list, he would be the first running back to have done so since Long Beach State's Mark Templeton in 1986.