2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - SJSU at Stanford
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Sept. 3 at Stanford 57 … San Jose State 3
CFN Analysis: That's exactly what you do with a team like San Jose State. Stanford didn't mess around, it didn't warm up, it came out guns blazing with Andrew Luck playing like Andrew Luck with a sharp 17-of-26, 171-yard, two score passing day with a touchdown. It was a balanced, efficient effort with the offense capitalizing on every chance and every opportunity. The run defense was dominant, holding the Spartans to 27 yards on 32 carries even though the defensive front didn't do too much to get into the backfield with just four tackles for loss and a sack. The offensive firepower should continue with Duke coming up next before the Pac-12 opener against Arizona, and while next week should be an easy win, it would be nice to be pushed just a little bit more against a stronger offense. However, Duke is coming off a loss to Richmond.
The Spartans didn't have any sort of a chance against a pumped up Stanford team looking to prove that there was life outside of Jim Harbaugh, but it would've been nice to have gotten something more out of the offense. Matt Faulkner threw well, completing 14-of-26 passes for 184 yards, but there wasn't any semblance of a running game whatsoever with just 27 yards. The offense isn't likely to get much more on the ground next week against UCLA, so if Faulkner isn't bombing away, it'll be another blowout. Keeping the chains moving is a must after converting on just 3-of-14 chances.
(AP) STANFORD, Calif. -- Andrew Luck and the rest of Stanford's players huddled together in the locker room, screaming and shouting every one of the points they piled up in the opener.
"One, two, three ..." they yelled.
Fifty-seven counts later, cheers erupted. For a game that was nothing more than a tune-up, the Cardinal sure made a lot of noise.
Luck threw two touchdowns and ran for another score, leading seventh-ranked Stanford past San Jose State 57-3 in the season opener Saturday.
"It wasn't perfect," new coach David Shaw said. "But it was good."
All the way around.
Luck, the Heisman Trophy runner-up to Auburn's Cam Newton last year, completed 17 of 26 passes for 171 yards and looked every bit the player many believe will take home college football's most famous award. He connected with seven different receivers, showed no signs of slipping under the new staff and rested for the fourth quarter.
The standout quarterback summed up his performance in one word: average. Considering what he has done in his career, that would be exactly right.
Stanford's right on pace.
"I think a lot of (the scoring) was our defense and special teams putting us in a position where you can't mess up," said Luck, who presented Shaw the game ball with his teammates. "I definitely don't think we're satisfied on offense."
Stepfan Taylor ran for 61 yards and two touchdowns and Chris Owusu caught seven passes for 76 yards for the Cardinal, who pounced on their South Bay rival from the start. San Jose State last upset Stanford in 2006, and the Silicon Valley series has been all Cardinal since.
Thanks to Luck.
After turning down a chance to be the NFL draft's No. 1 pick, Luck returned to The Farm and has hopes of a Pac-12 title and possible even a national championship. There certainly wasn't any hangover in Stanford's first tune-up.
Shaw was calm and cool on the sideline with none of the chest bumping or helmet smacking that personified his predecessor, Jim Harbaugh, now with the San Francisco 49ers. With Luck back and better than ever, there was no reason to get all riled up in this one.
Except for maybe watching Luck run all over the field.
After driving the ball inches short of the goal line in the first quarter, Luck scrambled to his right, paused and sprinted to the corner. He launched his body toward the sideline and reached the ball out to swipe the pylon, giving Stanford a 10-0 lead on his first touchdown of the season.
"He gets to dive head first when there's a touchdown involved," Shaw said. "Besides that, he's supposed to slide. He's under strict directives to slide."
As if the Cardinal needed any breaks, San Jose State gave them plenty.
The Spartans fumbled six times and lost three of them, including when Brandon Rutley entered at quarterback in a wildcat formation only to drop the ball on the exchange. Ben Gardner recovered, and Stanford took over from 13 yards out.
The short field position was far too easy for Luck and perhaps the biggest reason his statistics were relatively low.
On the first play after the turnover, he sailed a touch pass to tight end Zach Ertz in the corner of the end zone to put the Cardinal ahead 17-0. And the rout was on.
Not all of Stanford's highlights came on offense.
With the clock dwindling down in the first half, Chase Thomas jarred the ball loose from Matt Faulkner -- who was making his first start at quarterback for San Jose State -- and Henry Anderson scooped it up and ran 37 yards until he was tackled a yard short of the goal line.
"I'm getting close to the end zone and I'm like, 'Why am I not getting tackled yet?'" Anderson said, chuckling. "We do a lot of sprints in practice, but I never thought I'd run that far."
Three plays later, Luck connected on a 1-yard TD pass to fullback Ryan Hewitt to take a 27-0 lead. Taylor also scored on runs of 3 yards and 1 yard in the third quarter to put the Cardinal ahead 43-3.
Luck and the rest of the starters were lifted, and even the backups kept piling up points.
Harrison Waid kicked an 18-yard field goal in the second quarter for San Jose State's lone score. He also missed wide right from 23 yards.
Faulkner finished 14 for 26 passing for 184 yards for San Jose State.
The Spartans, who went 1-12 last season, have lost 18 straight against ranked teams. The last came in a 27-24 win over No. 9 TCU on Nov. 4, 2000.
Playing against a Stanford team that finished 12-1 last season capped with an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech, they didn't have a chance.
"We had nowhere to go," San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre said. "They're a better team than we are, a much better team, and I think they'll have a great year."
San Jose State (0-0) at Stanford (0-0)
Sept. 3, 5:00
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Here's The Deal … Stanford gets to dip its toe into the David Shaw era with a visit from a familiar foe, nearby San Jose State. The sixth-ranked Cardinal will begin 2011 in contention for a second straight BCS bowl, but must first prove it can keep the momentum churning without inspirational head coach Jim Harbaugh. The new San Francisco 49ers leader hardly left the barn bare on The Farm, especially once Heisman favorite Andrew Luck put off the NFL to return to school for his junior season. After sacrificing 2010 in order to build for the future around underclassmen, second-year San Jose State coach Mike MacIntyre is expecting improved play this fall. Progress for the Spartans is going to be methodical, especially after posting their only win last season against Southern Utah of the FBS. Exiting the WAC cellar this fall will qualify as progress for MacIntyre and his youthful program.
Why San Jose State Might Win: The Spartans are welcoming back 19 starters, including their entire defense. A crisper product is almost inevitable. While the defense isn't very big, it is quick, going from sideline-to-sideline with the likes of S Duke Ihenacho and linebackers Keith Smith and Vince Buhagiar. The offense showed some pop down the stretch in 2010, and possesses potential cornerstone skill players in RB Brandon Rutley and WR Noel Grigsby. The key will be for senior QB Matt Faulkner to exploit a Cardinal defensive backfield that's going to be more vulnerable than it was a year ago.
Why Stanford Might Win: Although the Spartans D is a year older, will it actually be stingier? Probably, but you won't know it against the talented Cardinal attack. Instead of preparing for his debut as an NFL starter, Luck will instead be rifling through an overmatched San Jose State secondary. He's surrounded by a wealth of talent, including 1,000-yard rusher Stepfan Taylor, next-level linemen Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro and the nation's best collection of tight ends. Once Stanford reaches 20 points, which might be by the end of the first quarter, the game will already be out of reach for the impotent San Jose State offense.
What To Watch Out For: The Cardinal is going to miss defensive coordinator Vic Fangio, who followed Harbaugh to the NFL. It'll be up to the holdovers and the new starters to make sure that life goes on without the assistant. The D was an underrated star of last year's 12-1 squad, holding its last six opponents to no more than 17 points. Forming the backbone of the 2011 edition will be DE Matt Masifilo, linebackers Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas and safeties Delano Howell and Michael Thomas. However, the ultimate performance of this unit will depend on the likes of NT Terrence Stephens, LB Trent Murphy and C Barry Browning who are all competing to fill defensive voids.
What Will Happen: For Shaw, Saturday afternoon will serve as an ideal way to kick off his tenure as the Stanford head coach. He gets to showcase his first squad in front of the home crowd, while seeing most of his roster in action. In a game that won't be competitive beyond the first 15 minutes, Luck will deliver a crisp, two-touchdown showing before stepping aside so that backups Josh Nunes and Robbie Picazo can get some much-needed snaps.
CFN Prediction: Stanford 52 … San Jose State 13
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Stanford -28.5 O/U: 52.5
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