After each endured brutal losses six days earlier, Stanford had the better bounce-back Friday night in Palo Alto, going wire-to-wire in beating Washington State 34-17 in a Pac-12 Conference matchup to drop the Cougars to 2-5 and render inert their chances for a second consecutive bowl game.
After throwing for an FBS-record 734 yards in a 60-59 home loss to Cal, Cougars QB Connor Halliday was held to 292 yards as the No. 1-rated Cardinal defense pounded him mercilessly. Sacked four times and hit many more, Halliday lost 56 yards on the sacks, and WSU finished with minus-26 yards rushing.
But Stanford’s ailing offense continued to stumble in the red zone, closing the first half’s final two possessions with a fumble lost on the goal line and a missed field goal, providing only a 17-7 cushion.
The Cougars closed to 24-17 with 13:02 left in the game when Halliday completed a three-yard touchdown pass to River Cracraft to finish a 16-play, 75 yard drive that took five minutes. Halliday rolled right and just before reaching the sideline, threw left, across his body, and found Cracraft in the back of the end zone. Cracraft caught a school-record 14 balls for 100 yards.
But the Cardinal (4-2) responded with their own five-minute drive, this time Jordan Williamson making a field goal, from 39 yards, for a 27-17 lead. Multiple misfires — they converted only five of 19 third downs and had 10 penalties for 75 yards — kept the Cougars away from the end zone.
Stanford’s Remoud Wright added some salt to the wound with a six-yard TD run with 1:38 left. Recovering from a 17-14 loss at Notre Dame, Stanford’s defense was led by DB Zach Hoffpauir’s 15 tackles.
To be bowl-eligible, Washington State now must with four games in its final five against Arizona, USC, Oregon State, Arizona State and Washington.