Sports


Luck helps entertain another sellout crowd

 

By Rick Eymer

Palo Alto Online Sports

Michael Thomas snapped Stanford's lone remaining negative streak Saturday as the seventh-ranked Cardinal introduced visiting Colorado to the Pac-12 Conference with its own version of that classic hit, "Wipe Out."

Consider that junior running back Stepfan Taylor rushed for 58 yards, his season low, and still managed to come within two yards of matching the Buffaloes' total rushing yards. Tyler Gaffney, who rushed for a season-high 61 yards, did surpass Colorado's team total.

In all, eight different players ran the ball at least once and 11 different players caught a pass. That happens when you're winning games, 48-7, like Stanford (5-0, 3-0) did in front of another sellout crowd of 50,360.

The Cardinal won its 13th straight, the nation's longest current winning streak and matching the school's longest winning streak dating to 1941. Stanford will look to extend that streak next Saturday with a 4:30 p.m. game at Washington State.

Thomas intercepted a pass in the second half, the first of the season for the Cardinal. Stanford entered the game as one of three teams without an interception. FYI, those other two teams, Utah State and Akron, also broke that streak on Saturday.

"Our coaches talk to us about when you get a turnover, don't see it as a momentum swing," Thomas said. "But see it as an opportunity."

Andrew Luck threw for a season-high 370 yards and three touchdowns to pad his Heisman Trophy resume, and he did so with former Stanford quarterback John Elway, who was the last Cardinal drafted as the overall No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, standing on the sidelines along with Tiger Woods, who earlier in the day was playing in the Frys.com Open in San Martin.

"Every game he does something that not many human beings can do," said Stanford coach David Shaw of Luck, echoing sentiments said about Elway in a different, bygone, era.

Count Colorado coach Jon Embree among those who are convinced Luck is the first coming of his own self.

"Luck is the best quarterback, no doubt," Embree said. "He's got a good enough arm that he can throw the ball down the field without putting a lot of air on it. Not a lot of kids at college can do that. He runs their offense to a 'T.' "

Luck entertained everybody as he completed 26 of 33 passes, many of them delivered perfectly. Only a 423-yard passing performance in a loss at Arizona two years did Luck throw for more yards, and he didn't even play the final 10 minutes against Colorado.

"I think we need to improve," Luck said. "We left some plays out there, some turnovers and some three-and-outs which are not good enough."

The two turnovers Stanford did cough up hurt nothing but its turnover margin. The Buffs opened the game with a short kick, attempting to avoid Chris Owusu. Jeremy Stewart fumbled the ball and Colorado recovered.

Buffs kicker Will Oliver lined up for a 29-yard field goal with a chance to give his team the early advantage and make Colorado the first team to take a lead over the Cardinal at any point in the game.

Max Bergen turned things around by 180 degrees.

Bergen ran untouched through the line and blocked the attempt. He picked up the ball on a bounce and rambled 75 yards for a score, giving Stanford a 7-0 lead.

"I took a few looks to my side, but I just wanted to score," Bergen said. "That was the only thing on my mind."

Ryan Hewitt caught two touchdown passes and Griff Whalen caught one scoring toss. Taylor, Gaffney and Stewart each had a 1-yard scoring run for Stanford.

"Sometimes he makes some pretty unbelievable plays," Whalen said of Luck. "At this point, I don't think we're exactly surprised."

Luck threw only his second interception of the season in the second quarter, and again it came on a tipped passes by a receiver. The Buffs lost two yards on three plays and then punted the ball away. A.J. Tarpley and Trent Murphy combined to sack Colorado quarterback Tyler Hansen.

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