Card brings 13-game winning streak to Pullman

THE SOFT PART of Stanford's early-season schedule did not completely end with its 48-7 victory over Colorado on Saturday, but the competition will get progressively more challenging over the next several games leading up to the Nov. 12 showdown against Oregon.

The Cardinal has not been challenged so far this season, partly because they're so talented and so efficient, but also because the teams it has faced have not been very good.

Colorado was the latest example. The Buffaloes are 1-5 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-12, and they blew any chance of jumping on top of the Cardinal when it had a 29-yard field goal attempt blocked and returned for a Stanford touchdown early in the game.

Quarterback Andrew Luck had another nearly flawless game, going 26-for-33 for 370 yards, three touchdowns and one interception on a tipped ball, but this was against a Colorado secondary that was riddled with injuries and isn't that good when everyone is healthy.

"The way Luck checks off at the line of scrimmage, reads everything that's going on, makes it so tough," Colorado coach John Embree told the San Francisco Chronicle.

"You put too much pressure on him, it exposes your corner. If you're loaded against the run, he'll pass. Set up for the pass, he'll run the ball. You can't disguise it. He's just the best quarterback, no doubt."

The Cardinal's road to a Rose Bowl or perhaps a national championship gets a little tougher this week, a road game against an improved, 3-2 Washington State team that is more than a mere pushover in Pullman. The Cougars, though, are coming off a painful 28-25 loss to UCLA.

About the only perceptible weakness in the Card is pass defense, which is good news for the pass-happy Cougars.

Tyler Hansen of Colorado had 202 yards passing against the Cardinal, and that was without his top receiving threat, Paul Richardson, who sat out with a bad knee.


  • Stanford has won 13 consecutive games, the longest winning streak in the nation and tied for the longest winning streak in school history. The Cardinal also has won 10 consecutive home games, dating to a loss to Cal near the end of the 2009 season.

  • For the first time this season, none of Stanford's talented tight end trio of Levine Toilolo, Zach Ertz and Coby Fleener caught a touchdown pass. However, Ryan Hewitt caught two, and, for all practical purposes, Hewitt is a tight end, too. Officially, he is listed as a fullback and lines up in the backfield much of the time, but he wears No. 85 and is used much like the other tight ends. Fleener and Toilolo each caught a pass that went to the one-yard line.

  • Stanford is 5-0 for the first time since 1951.

  • Stanford's margin of victory of victory has not been fewer than 27 points in any of its last eight games, including all five this season.

    KEEP AN EYE ON: Luck seems to be getting better as the season goes on. His numbers through five games this season are better than his statistics after five games a year ago, although the competition has been mediocre for Stanford so far in 2011. Teams try to put pressure on him, but he finds ways to subtly move away from the rush and find open receivers with his quick release. He threw an interception against Colorado, but it was a ball that went right through the hands of Stanford receiver Chris Owusu, deflecting to a Colorado defender. Luck was not sacked by the Buffaloes and Cardinal quarterbacks have been sacked only twice all season, tied with three other teams for the fewest in the country. He ranks third nationally in pass efficiency as of Oct. 9, behind only Robert Griffin III of Baylor and Russell Wilson of Wisconsin.

    LOOKING GOOD: Running back Tyler Gaffney had 61 rushing yards on nine carries, the first time this season someone other than Stepfan Taylor led the team in rushing. Gaffney is not about to replace Taylor as the starter and primary ball-carrier, but he has been progressively more effective and his playing time is increasing. He has been particularly effective running out of the wildcat formation, recording runs of 15 and 21 yards when taking a direct snap against Colorado, after producing a 16-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation in the previous game against UCLA.

    STILL NEEDS WORK: The Cardinal special teams looked ragged. Although they blocked a Colorado field goal attempt that Max Bergen returned for a Stanford touchdown, the rest was not so good. Stanford's Jeremy Stewart fumbled the opening kickoff, giving Colorado the ball at the Stanford 35, and Drew Terrell muffed a punt when a teammate bumped into him as he was about to field the ball. K Jordan Williamson missed an extra point for the first time this season, and he missed his only field-goal attempt, a 47-yarder, which was his first miss of the season. QUOTE TO NOTE: "Every game he does something that not many humans can do." -- Stanford coach Davis Shaw, on Andrew Luck.

  • WR Griff Whalen had a season-high four catches for a career-high 92 yards vs. Colorado. He also had his first touchdown catch of the season, which was only the third touchdown reception by a Stanford wide receiver this season.

  • S Michael Thomas had Stanford first interception of the season on Oct. 8 against Colorado, and it came in the fourth quarter, well after the outcome had been determined.


  • CB Barry Browning, who missed the Oct. 1 game against UCLA because of back spasms, was back in the starting lineup against Colorado.
  • Redshirt freshman K Jordan Williams missed an extra point for the first time this season, when his kick after the Cardinal's second touchdown bounced off the right upright. He also had his first missed field goal, a 47-yarder. Williams had made his first seven field goal attempts.
  • ILB Shayne Skov, who is out for the season after tearing his medial collateral ligament and his anterior cruciate ligament, had one surgery soon after sustaining the injury Sept. 17, and he will have another surgery on his left knee near the end of October. He expects to be ready to play for Stanford next season.
  • Junior TB Stepfan Taylor scored his 22nd touchdown against Colorado, moving him into sole possession of sixth place on the Stanford career list.

    KICKOFF ON SATURDAY in Pullman is 4:30 pm. The game will be televised on Versus. Stanford is a 20 1/2-point favorite.

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