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