The Spartans gave the 21st-ranked Cardinal all they could handle and some more, but could not overcome some critical mistakes in the fourth quarter - including a fumble by DeLeon Eskridge that led to the game-winning field goal - as the Spartans fell to Stanford by a final of 20-17.
The stat line for this game will tell some interesting stories. Total yardage for both teams was nearly even, with Stanford having 287 yards and SJSU 279. Time of possession was also practically equal, with Stanford having 30:08 and SJSU having 29:17 (stats courtesy of the ESPN box score).
The first quarter looked like a repeat of last years 57-3 thrashing, with Stanford outscoring SJSU 14-0 and outgaining the Spartans 133-27. The Spartans managed to bring things to level in the second quarter, going in at halftime with a 17-3 deficit.
It was the third quarter where SJSU managed to make quite a few people in Palo Alto nervous, as the Spartans took the 3rd quarter kickoff and drove the length of the field for a rushing touchdown by backup QB Blake Jurich. After Stanford got one first down, SJSU forced another punt, and took the ball on the following drive for 82 yards with a touchdown pass from David Fales to Noel Grigsby.
Things then pretty much settled down into trench warfare from there, except that Stanford managed to force a fumble by DeLeon Eskridge late in the third quarter, and drove 35 yards to get a field goal by Jordan Williamson, and managed to make that field goal stand up as the final margin of victory.
Of note, SJSU's defense was able to hold Stanford to only 2-13 on third down (the Cardinal were 2-3 on fourth down), and so was able to give the SJSU offense multiple opportunities. Unfortunately, there were a lot of dropped balls by the experienced SJSU WR corps which took the Spartans' third-quarter momentum and snuffed it out.
Ultimately, even though this was penciled in by all comers as a loss for SJSU, there is no doubt that this performance by the Spartans will turn some heads - but may well also make some people wonder whether or not Stanford was over-rated at its #21 position. The Cardinal may be punished somewhat in the next rankings for their performance this evening, but SJSU was and is a much better team than the crew that showed up last year up on the Farm.
Next up for SJSU is a game against FCS California-Davis, next Saturday afternoon.