Stanford ground game erases UCLA LB Anthony Barr

UCLA's strength on defense is a group of athletic, versatile linebackers with the skill set necessary to defend spread offenses, highlighted by Anthony Barr.

Stanford, however, turned that strength into a weakness by forcing the Bruins to play almost exclusively within the box in a 24-10 win that keeps the Cardinal alive in their push for the Pac-12 North and BCS titles.

Hot 100 seniors

In his midseason update of the top 100 seniors in college football, Gil Brandt has UCLA LB Anthony Barr No. 1 and a previously unranked player in his top 5. More ...

Running back Tyler Gaffney rushed for 171 yards and two touchdowns on 36 carries, as Stanford went back to its familiar formula of pounding the ball behind extra offensive linemen, tight ends and fullbacks and daring UCLA to stop them. They couldn't, with Stanford controlling the ball for 10:13 in the fourth quarter to grind out the win.

The absence of inside linebacker Eric Kendricks, who was taken to the hospital at halftime for tests on his kidneys, was definitely felt. Stanford's interior trio of center Khalil Wilkes and guards David Yankey and Kevin Danser battered the middle of the UCLA defense.

Barr still made one standout play, a brilliant job of recognizing and closing in on wide receiver/running back Kelsey Young on a reverse for a 8-yard loss. However, wide receiver Kodi Whitfield made a physics-defying touchdown catch on the very next play.

Barr finished with eight tackles. The athleticism and versatility of the top-ranked player on NFL Media analyst Gil Brandt's Hot 100 will be put to better use next week at Oregon, where Barr can track down quarterback Marcus Mariota and the rest of that speedy Ducks offense.

Stanford's track to neutralize Barr was decidedly old school in approach: run the ball.

Follow Dan Greenspan on Twitter @DanGreenspan.

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