Stanford put forth a workmanlike effort in a 31-17 win at Washington State on a dreary day in the Pacific Northwest. Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor scored two touchdowns apiece, while Stanford's defense came away three interceptions, four sacks, and 13 tackles for loss.
"Won't lead off SportsCenter, but any Pac-12 win is a good win," Coach David Shaw said. "We were at their place, in miserable, rainy weather, so to build a comfortable lead and let a bunch of our younger guys see some action in the second half, I'm pretty pleased."
Luck's two touchdown passes came early. The first was a seven-yarder to Coby Fleener on a post route and the second a one-yarder to Geoff Meinken, who broke a tackle in the left flat to just barely extend across the goal-line. Sandwiched in between the senior Heisman candidate's touchdown passes were a one-yard touchdown dive from Taylor and the first of Cougar quarterback Jeff Tuel's two touchdown passes.
"Andrew might not care about his stats, but we sure do," Meinken said. "He's a great guy and we're all pulling for him to put up good numbers and win the Heisman. Don't tell coach I said this, but when we had that first-and-goal from the one, I did my best to make sure our touchdown came on a pass. Maybe it'll make the difference for him, who knows."
Be they by air or by land, the visiting Cardinal's three early touchdowns resulted in a 21-7 lead with three minutes left in the first half. Washington State would never pull to within one score the rest of the way.
"I don't like drama," offensive lineman David DeCastro said. "We know the schedule's only going to get harder down the stretch, so to get a comfortable win and stay healthy, that's what we wanted to do today."
The defense turned up the heat in the second half, as the score forced Washington State into a one-dimensional pass-heavy attack. No longer threatened with the run, Stanford could dial up blitzes. Defensive back Harold Bernard benefited, ringing up two second-half sacks, while defensive tackle Matt Masifilio killed a Wazzu drive by dropping Tuel on a third-and-five.
Overmatched in the trenches, Washington State converted only two of 11 third downs on the afternoon. The Cougars finished with but 202 yards on the day, many of them in garbage time.
After Jordan Williamson's 39-yard field goal pushed Stanford's lead to 24-7 in the early fourth, the Cougars' Marquess Wilson caught his second touchdown of the day, beating Stanford's backup defensive backs down the field for a 55-yarder. Taylor then ran in a 21- yarder, pushing Stanford's lead to 31-14 with four minutes left, and all but ending the contest. A Washington State field goal in the last minute accounted for the final margin.
"We're at the halfway mark now, and I think we had a good game for this time of the season," receiver Chris Owusu said. "It shows we've worked hard and made progress over the first six games, but it also shows that we need to keep getting better."
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