Led by Andrew Luck's stellar first half (17-23 for 301 yards and four TD passes), the Cardinal got off to a fast start and overwhelmed the Sacramento State Hornets with a big-play offense in a convincing 52-17 win that would have been ever more lopsided were it not for a fumbled snap and a mix-up on special teams, each of which led to Hornet scores. The 52 points was the second-highest total in a season opener in school history, entertaining the announced crowd of 30,626. It was 21-7 at the quarter and 38-7 at the half (with Stanford producing 383 yards of total offense to Sac State's 72), after which the Cardinal largely called off the dogs, allowing a lot of young players including six true freshman, to see the field (Barry Browning, Ed Reynolds, Anthony Wilkerson, David Yankey, Blake Lueders, and Devon Carrington).
In front of a surprisingly decent crowd, the redshirt sophomore sensation Luck was simply masterful. With starting wide receiver Chris Owusu out, always-amped senior Doug Baldwin (#89) stepped up with four catches for a career-best 111 yards and two scores, including an 81-yard bomb, the longest Stanford touchdown pass in a decade!
One can quibble. It would have been nice to see more than 15 yards passing in the second half (there were no completions in the fourth quarter!), but it was sure sweet to watch Alex Loukas bust loose on a 48-yard run! We might have liked to have seen Stepfan Taylor carry the ball a few more times, but he did take a screen 59 yards for a touchdown. Tyler Gaffney, Jeremy Stewart, and true freshman Anthony Wilkerson each got into the end zone as well. Ryan Whalen had a TD reception called back on a penalty, but managed to collect his 100th catch for the Cardinal and dished out one of the better stiff-arms in recent seasons! It certainly appeared to these eyes that first-year freight train Anthony Wilkerson is ready to rock and roll.
The defense gave up only 10 points, recorded three sacks (two by Chase Thomas) and held Sac State to 54 net yards rushing and a 1.8 average per carry. Playing in place of starting inside linebacker Shayne Skov (knee infection), fourth-year junior Max Bergen got the job done, forcing a fumble, leading the team in tackles with eight, a recording a tackle-for-loss.
The most unfortunate occurrence
of the evening saw redshirt freshman tight end Levine Toilolo injured his knee
in what looks like could well be a quick end to a promising
season for the big fellow. Cornerback Barry Browning bounced back from a stinger
that caused some anxious moments.
More details to come Sunday morning. It is pretty late and your editor just got home a celebratory post-game evening taking in outstanding AC/DC cover band Powerage!
Do you have a "premium" subscription to The Bootleg? If not, then you are seriously missing out on all the top Cardinal coverage we provide daily on our award-winning website. Sign up today for the biggest, baddest and best in Stanford sports coverage with TheBootleg.com (sign-up)!