Cougar de Grâce: Death Blow to Stanford’s CFP Hopes

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 17: Christian McCaffrey #5 of the Stanford Cardinal scores a touchdown against the USC Trojans in the first half of their NCAA football game at Stanford Stadium on September 17, 2016 in Palo Alto, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)

Cougar de Grâce: Death Blow to Stanford’s CFP Hopes

Before the season started, I wrote an article about Stanford’s road to the College Football Playoff (CFP). I hypothesized that losses to Washington, Notre Dame, and Oregon were possible, and that the Cardinal could only withstand one loss to an undefeated, nationally respected team to stay in CFP contention. In a nut shell, because they play in the PAC-12 it would “take a season of near perfection for Stanford to get there.”

Heading into Week 7, with a 3-2 record, perfection is long gone. If the drubbing by Washington landed Stanford in the ICU, being blown out by Washington State was the final death blow, or their Cougar de grâce. The CFP is no longer an option for Stanford football this year.

It’s always just out of reach.

Let’s masochistically relive the crap-tastic Washington State game using my favorite communication tool for emotionally stunted sports people: GIFs.

First Half

Stanford started the game on offense. And promptly went three and out.

Here we go again. 

But 39 seconds later, Washington State gave the ball back to Stanford courtesy of a Dallas Lloyd pick.


Following that, Stanford’s offense gained a total of three yards on the next three plays, and kicker Conrad Ukropina clanked the ball off the upright.

Football is an emotional roller coaster. So is baseball, apparently. 

It only got worse for Stanford from that point. Offensive plays for the remainder of the half resulted in a punt, field goal, fumble, and another missed field goal. The offense was atrocious. The new school offensive line looked lost and over-matched, wide receivers couldn’t get open, and quarterback Ryan Burns was struggling.

A message to the former offensive linemen, Josh Garnett, Kyle Murphy and Graham Shuler:

Come back, Tunnel Workers Union. Come back. 

Stanford fans on the phone to Kevin Hogan, all:

He doesn’t have any eligibility, guys. He’s gone. He plays for the Browns now. Poor guy. 

Anyway. Stanford was down 14-3 at the half. Not insurmountable by any means.

I mean, this is Washington State for goodness sake. 

Second Half

Well, Washington State scored on the first possession, making the score 21-3. Then Burns threw an interception.

Looks like it was insurmountable after all.

Luke Falk felt bad about Stanford’s plight and generously threw another interception, and Stanford’s Frank Buncom took it to the house to make the score 21-10.

Shortly after that, something terrible happened.
That moment when you notice Christian McCaffrey jogging to the locker room:

Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god.

Stanford’s remaining offensive possessions ended in either punts or an interception, save for a garbage time touchdown on the last play of the game.


Stanford lost 42-16. To Washington State. At home. In 2016.

Washington State beat Stanford? The Cubs are good? What is this world?

And that’s how Washington State ended Stanford’s CFP hopes with the cougar de grâce. 


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