The 2008 NCAA football season began this Thursday night, and I happened to be at Stanford Stadium to catch the Stanford Cardinal upset the Oregon State Beavers 36-28 in an epic battle that was not decided until the final minute when Beavers’ Darrell Catchings fumbled the ball just before crossing the plane of the goal line.
If Catchings had scored, the Beavers would have been down by two points, and had attempted their second two point conversation in the forth quarter to try to send the game in to overtime.
All three teams (the Beavers, Cardinal and referees) got off to a slow start in the first quarter. At a half empty Stanford Stadium, the fans didn’t get involved in the game until late in the second half, as the Cardinal rallied on both sides of the ball to victory.
The Beavers and the Cardinal appeared rusty and not quite ready for the season to start at first. After a scoreless first quarter, both football teams scored 17 points in the second quarter.
The referees blew many calls and seemed to favor the home team at times.
The low point of the game for the referees occurred on a Stanford pass from quarterback Tavita Pritchard that was called a catch, attached with a pass interference call on the Beavers defense. There was clearly no interference, and at first the catch didn’t appear to be legitimate. The play was challenged and went under review.
The officials overturned the call on the field, but the penalty could not be overturned. Just before the next play went off, the play went under review again. This time, there was a dispute as to which hash mark the ball ought to be placed on. It seemed as if the NCAA had hired high school officials to run the game.
The momentum of the game started to shift in favor of the Cardinal late in the third quarter as the Beavers’ quarterback Lyle Moevao attempted a screen pass deep in their own territory that ended up being a safety. The Beavers never regained the lead from that point.
The Cardinal passing game was ineffective, but their dominate running game was good enough to seal the deal. The Cardinal gained 210 yards on the ground, Toby Gerhart ran for 147 yards on 19 carries, two of which were touchdowns.
The Beavers had an ineffective rushing game, gaining only 86 yards on the ground. Moevao picked up the slack though, and completed 34-of-54 for 404 yards with three touchdowns.
Saturday Illinois plays at Missouri in what should be the game of the week, stay tuned for more coming soon.