STANFORD, Calif. (AP) — K.J. Costello overcame a rough start to throw two touchdown passes to JJ Arcega-Whiteside and No. 9 Stanford beat FCS-level UC Davis 30-10 on Saturday.
Costello threw interceptions on two of the first three drives of the game for the Cardinal (3-0) before settling in a bit against the overmatched Aggies (2-1).
"I never worry about him," coach David Shaw said. "He's unshakable. He missed a couple of throws, made a couple of bad decisions. He came back and was still bouncing on his toes and said, 'OK, Coach, what do you want to call next? ... After the first quarter he really settled down and did a really good job."
The game kicked off at the unusually early time of 11:01 a.m. local time in front of a sparse crowd at Stanford Stadium. The Cardinal even played without star running Bryce Love, who got the week off to heal some minor ailments.
After Stanford punted on the opening drive, Costello threw an interception to Nas Anesi deep in his own territory to set up an early UC Davis field goal.
Then one play after Costello's fumble that was returned for a TD was changed to an incomplete pass on replay, he sailed a pass that was intercepted by Isaiah Thomas.
UC Davis was unable to capitalize on that turnover, failing to convert a fourth-and-6 from the Cardinal 37. Stanford then took control by scoring on its next three drives.
Costello found Arcega-Whiteside in the end zone on passes of 9 and 8 yards. Arcega-Whiteside used his superior size to box out defenders when he got one-on-one coverage, giving him five TD catches on the season.
"They didn't give it to us much this afternoon but in terms of when they did or anybody does, I know what my answer will be," Costello said.
Costello finished 17 for 30 for 214 yards with two TDs and two interceptions.
The defense did the rest against a UC Davis team that averaged 49 points per game and more than 500 yards of offense in season-opening wins over San Jose State and San Diego.
Stanford nearly went two straight games without allowing a touchdown before Hunter Rodrigues threw a 26-yard pass to C.J. Spencer on the final play of the game.
UC Davis: The Aggies tried several tricks, going for it five times on fourth down calling three pass plays by receiver Carson Crawford. But none of it worked against a Stanford defense that hasn't allowed a TD in 11 straight quarters. UC Davis also had a field goal blocked by Casey Toohill and botched a snap on a punt to set up a field goal for the Cardinal.
Stanford: Love got banged up last week against USC and the Cardinal chose to rest him against an FCS-level team with a tough three-week stretch coming up. Stanford his road games against No. 20 Oregon and No. 8 Notre Dame followed by a home game against Utah. The Cardinal gained just 60 yards on the ground in the first half behind Cameron Scarlett and Trevor Speights and finished with 137 for the game.
UC Davis: Host Idaho on Saturday.
Stanford: Visits No. 20 Oregon on Saturday.