By Rick Eymer
Palo Alto Online Sports
Stanford sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck felt good, real good, and the result is Stanford's best start to a season in nine years.
"We're 3-0, which is great and how any team wants to start," he said after the Cardinal handed visiting Wake Forest a 68-24 setback Saturday night in a nonconference game. "It's coming along but now we have some tough road games and some tough home games. I don't think we're satisfied."
The AP pollsters moved Stanford up to No. 16 from No. 19 following the big victory.
Luck, who threw for 207 yards and four touchdowns and rushed for another, said the 19th-ranked Cardinal will celebrate for a while but when Sunday night rolls around, it will be back to business.
"We have to start getting ready for Notre Dame," he said of next week's opponent.
By the way, Luck played the first eight possessions and Stanford scored on all eight of them.
"When you're 8-for-8 that's pretty good but there is always room for improvement," said Luck, who rushed for 69 yards and completed 17 of 23 passes.
Stanford used three quarterbacks in the contest, as Alex Loukas and Josh Nunes combined for another 3-of-5 passes and 25 yards. Loukas added 42 rushing yards.
The big offensive display -- 535 yards, including 303 on the ground -- was the result of a great motivational program throughout the week. Players learned they would be wearing specially crafted black uniforms for the game while reminding the Cardinal of what happened in Winston-Salem last year, when the Demon Deacons roared back from a halftime deficit to hand Stanford a particularly tough loss.
"We new we would have to light up the scoreboard in order to beat them," Luck said. "That being said, I thought our defense did a great job of holding them down."
Luck threw a pair of first-quarter touchdowns of eight and 35 yards to Chris Owusu, playing in his first game of the season after recovering from a knee injury.
"It's always great to have Chris back," said Luck. "He makes plays. All I have to do is put the ball in the air and he'll always make the play."
There was no mistaking Owusu's own happiness of returning to action either.
"The training staff did a great job of getting me ready," he said.
Senior receiver Ryan Whalen left the game in the first half with an apparent wrist injury after catching one pass for nine yards.
"Ryan is our leader," Owusu said. "To lose him means guys have to step up."
Sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov also returned to action after missing the first two games. Running back Jeremy Stewart missed the game with an undisclosed injury.
Luck also threw touchdown passes to Doug Baldwin and Usua Amanam. He raced 52 yards for another score.
"We were on the sideline yelling at him to get down," Owusu said. "He's our leader. But he did a great job of using his vision."
Luck, of course, said he got lucky.
"Five guys were running routes and they were bracketing both sides so they didn't have the quarterback accounted for," he said. "I got lucky and guys did a great job of blocking downfield."
The 300-plus rushing yards were distributed over eight runners. Tyler Gaffney led the way with 76 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Stepfan Taylor went 60 yards and a score and Loukas also scored.
The Cardinal scored its most points in 42 years. Wake Forest gave up its most points since losing 72-13 to Florida State in 1995.
Luck completed his first eight passes of the game and effortlessly moved the Cardinal down the field against a Wake Forest defense that allowed 48 points in a win over Duke last week.
With 10 touchdown passes after three weeks, Luck showed he deserves to be mentioned prominently in early season talk about the Heisman Trophy.
The Cardinal has scored 154 points through three games, showing no signs of missing last year's Heisman runner-up Toby Gerhart. This is the best offensive start to a season for Stanford since scoring 164 points in the first three games in 1923. This was Stanford's highest scoring game since also getting 68 against San Jose State in 1968.
Wearing black uniforms for the first time, the Cardinal looked sharp from the start after waiting around all day for the latest kickoff in school history.