Stanford 44 … at Duke 14
Posted Sep 10, 2011

Week 2 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Stanford at Duke

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 2 - Stanford at Duke

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- Sept. 10 Stanford 44 … at Duke 14
CFN Analysis: COMING 

(AP) DURHAM, N.C. -- Andrew Luck led No. 6 Stanford to yet another strong finish. What concerned the star quarterback was a slow-starting offense that could have placed the Cardinal in deep, early trouble against a more powerful opponent.

Just not against Duke.

Luck matched a career high by throwing four touchdown passes in No. 6 Stanford's 44-14 rout of the Blue Devils on Saturday.

He was 20 of 28 for 290 yards with touchdown passes of 60 and 3 yards to Coby Fleener, 10 yards to Chris Owusu and 3 yards to Zach Ertz. The TDs helped Stanford (2-0) overcome an uneasy start, roll up 504 total yards and pull away for its 10th straight victory dating to last season.

"We put some points on the board -- we found our stride, you could say, our rhythm in the second half," Luck said. "But we're going to get beat if we continue to play like that offensively."

Stanford never trailed, claimed a rare regular-season win on the East Coast and denied the Blue Devils (0-2) their first win against a ranked team since 1994.

Lee Butler returned an interception 76 yards for a touchdown to pull Duke to 10-7 late in the first half. Luck then led four straight touchdown drives to turn it into a rout before exiting one play into the fourth quarter.

"We started the second half playing our style of football," Stanford coach David Shaw said.

Owusu finished with seven catches for 106 yards and Jeremy Stewart added a 30-yard touchdown run for the Cardinal, who were making their fifth regular-season trip east since 1997.

Stanford was 1-3 in its previous four visits East since '97, though the Cardinal did rout Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl in January. Two years ago, they were beaten at Wake Forest in the first road start of Luck's career, a defeat that still rankles several upperclassmen. In this one, Stanford methodically pulled away from a Duke team that was a three-touchdown underdog and was coming off another loss to a lower-division FCS team.

Even though the end result was the same, Duke barely resembled the outfit that lost to Richmond for the third time in six years.

"We have to make plays and we weren't able to do that," safety Matt Daniels said. "We kind of just broke down. It really didn't have anything to do with fatigue. We had a lot of missed tackles, a lot of missed assignments."

Coach David Cutcliffe pulled out all the stops in his attempt to deliver the Blue Devils' first victory over a top 10 opponent since 1989 and first against a nonconference top 10 team since they beat then-No. 10 Stanford in 1971.

Duke faked a punt on a fourth-and-7 while trailing 10-0 midway through the second quarter. The gadget play worked -- Alex King floated a swing pass to Jay Hollingsworth for 21 yards -- but it only led to one in a frustrating series of missed opportunities when the outcome was still in doubt. Normally trusty Will Snyderwine missed his second field goal of the day.

Then, after Butler's pick-six pulled Duke to 10-7, Cutcliffe dialed up an onside kick that was recovered by Walt Canty at the Stanford 40 with about 2 minutes left in the half.

The game essentially swung on what happened next: Duke netted minus-14 yards on that drive, which ended with a 13-yard punt.

Then, Luck took over.

The 2010 Heisman Trophy runner-up led Stanford 59 yards in four plays and capped the drive by hitting Owusu with a catch-and-run that made it 17-7 with 39 seconds left before halftime -- the first of five straight touchdown drives for the Cardinal.

"I've only been around a couple quarterbacks that see everything," Shaw said. "He was able to tell us exactly where the safeties were. ... I thought he managed the game very well. Early on, we had a couple of protection issues where he had to slide and throw the ball off his back foot.

"He is resilient," Shaw added. "He never backs down. He stands in there and takes the hits."

Luck stretched the lead to 24-7 when Fleener beat safety August Campbell to the ball and rumbled downfield for his second score of the day.

"I guess you could say Andrew makes a lot of hard throws look easy," Fleener said.

And after Stewart's scoring run, Luck hit Ertz with a short strike that made it a 37-7 one play into the fourth quarter.

Fleener's first touchdown catch was a short flip from Luck that capped Stanford's opening drive. The Cardinal later went up 10-0 on Jordan Williamson's 40-yard field goal early in the second quarter.

Sean Renfree finished 19 of 27 for 179 yards for Duke.

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Stanford (1-0) at Duke (0-1) Sept. 10, 3:30, ESPNU

Here's The Deal … When Duke and Stanford meet for the first time since 1972, Wallace Wade Stadium will be brimming with bright young college students. There'll be a handful of rather gifted football players in attendance as well. Cardinal QB Andrew Luck, for instance. The Heisman contender was predictably crisp in Week 1, tossing two touchdown passes and running for a third score in his team's 57-3 spanking of San Jose State.

Now that Oregon has already lost a game, falling to LSU in Arlington, Tex., Stanford becomes the Pac-12's best hope to represent the conference in the BCS National Championship Game. The Blue Devils, on the other hand, would be thrilled to just qualify for a bowl game. The beleaguered program, which appears to be stuck in neutral under head coach David Cutcliffe, lost its opener to Richmond of the FCS. Its already-thin postseason margin for error now evaporated, Duke will be seeking signs of progress in Week 2.

Why Stanford Might Win: The Cardinal's ability to score points in bunches will not be thwarted in Durham. Luck will arrive in North Carolina knowing that he might have been a Panther at this time had he left the Farm following his sophomore year. He'll operate behind a terrific line that'll open holes for Stepfan Taylor, while blowing Duke a few yards off the ball. Not only does Stanford boast one of the nation's best collections of tight ends, but speedy WR Chris Owusu is completely healthy for the first time in a long time. The senior, who can get behind the Duke secondary, opened the year with seven catches for 75 yards and a 59-yard kick return.

Why Duke Might Win: San Jose State wasn't able to exploit a Stanford defensive backfield in transition. The Blue Devils, though, might be able to. Duke has the components of a dangerous passing attack, headed by one of the ACC's better quarterbacks and a seasoned group of pass-catchers. Sean Renfree has a live arm and a keen feel for Cutcliffe's offense, spreading the ball around to TE Cooper Helfet and receivers Conner Vernon and Donovan Varner. With nothing to lose in this one, the Blue Devils are capable of catching the Cardinal napping as it looks ahead to next weekend's league opener at Arizona.

What To Watch Out For: While the Stanford offense is just fine these days, the defense needs some tweaking before the level of competition spikes dramatically. The trip to Duke represents a good test for the Cardinal secondary before going up against Arizona QB Nick Foles and WR Juron Criner. Vernon and Varner are a couple of skilled route-runners who are going to force cornerbacks Barry Browning and Johnson Bademosi to play tighter in coverage than they had to a week ago.

What Will Happen: Provided Stanford plays with the proper focus and motivation, it'll steamroll Duke en route to a comfortable victory. Luck and his supporting cast will be no match for a Blue Devils defense that's painfully shy of size and proven stoppers. The Cardinal will seize control of the game before halftime, coasting in the second half. At some point in the fourth quarter, head coach David Shaw and his assistants will already be thinking ahead to next Saturday's key showdown with Arizona in the desert.

CFN Prediction: Stanford 48 … Duke 17
- Click For Latest Line From ATS: Stanford -21   O/U: 49.5

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