Plunged into sudden darkness with under four minutes to play Saturday night, No. 18 Stanford's defense stumbled out of the shadows while San Diego State rumbled to a 20-17 upset, handing the Cardinal its second straight football loss.
Stanford (1-2) returns to campus and will host its home opener next Saturday at 7:30 p.m. against UCLA, a 48-45 loser at Memphis. Both teams will be a little grumpy come kickoff time.
Bryce Love, with a little help from his friends on the offensive line, tried to win by himself, scoring on runs of 51 and 53 yards and setting up a field goal with a 46-yard run. He gained 184 yards on 13 carries. Stanford managed an additional 70 yards on the other 29 plays.
Palo Alto grad Keller Chryst has lost two straight as the Cardinal starter after winning his first seven. While he's not solely to blame, throwing a pair of costly interceptions and losing a fumble didn't help either.
"This is a really good football team. I hope we didn't take them lightly," Cardinal coach David Shaw said. "We ran the ball pretty well. Our protection was lacking at times and our quarterback play. Keller up to this point was playing very well but did not have his best game. We need him to play better and a lot of guys to play better for us to beat a team we want to beat."
An odd series of plays, in which Stanford ran the Wildcat with Cameron Scarlett taking the direct snap and tossing to Connor Wedington, and Ryan Burns coming in and pitching to Love, which nearly turned into a disaster, seemed to discombobulate the flow of the offense at a crucial time in the fourth quarter.
San Diego State (3-0) pulled a page out of the USC game plan and dominated time of possession. Stanford had the ball for all of 18:46, or just over a quarter of the game. It's the shortest amount of possession time in a game in at least 21 years.
The Aztecs controlled the ball thanks to Rashaad Perry, who carried a career-high 32 times for 175 yards.
"We had some plays where we stopped him pretty good, but he broke loose on a couple plays," Stanford's Quenton Meeks said. "He's one of the best backs in the country so got to give hats off to him, but like I said we let him loose too many times just not doing our jobs."
The Aztecs have beaten the last three Pac-12 teams they've played for the first time in 30 years. They also beat a nationally-ranked nonconference opponent for the first time since Oct. 10, 1981.
As for the 22-minute delay to get the lights back on?
"If anything, San Diego State had the momentum," Shaw said. "They had just gotten an explosive play, theyhad just converted a third down and got a big play before the lights went out. I commend the officials for keeping both teams informed so that we could get our guys some rest and some water and then we got a five-minute period to get them loose and get them warm. Our guys were ready to go."