How good was Andrew Luck last night? The Stanford quarterback completed 83 percent of his passes, led a game-winning drive in the final minute, threw for three touchdowns, no interceptions, and 285 yards, and made the hit of the night on USC's Shareece Wright following one of two Stepfan Taylor fumbles. Yeah, I'd say that's helmet sticker worthy.
Luck said he was confident the Cardinal would score when it took the field, trailing 35-34, with 1:08 to play. USC linebacker Chris Galippo helped the Stanford cause after being flagged for a late hit on the first play of the drive, a short completion to Doug Baldwin. "There wasn't a whistle," Galippo told reporters after the game. "I was trying to bring him down. I saw he was in the grasp but he was still standing up and I knew every yard counted so I was trying to drive him back. At the end of the day it could have gone either way."
At the end of the day, Nate Whitaker's 30-yard field goal was the difference in a back-and-forth game. Luck was 3-for-3 on the final drive, including first down completions to Baldwin and Coby Fleener.
Luck downplayed his hit on Shareece Wright when questioned about it in the postgame press conference. I was impressed by the touchdown-saving tackle he made after Chris Owusu's fumble at Oregon. This hit, as one commenter said in the Game Thread, was the stuff of legend. Wright was fine, and managed to save a touchdown in the second half by chasing down Owusu on a long kickoff return.
"To his credit, he didn't see me, I got very, very lucky." -- Andrew Luck on the hit he delivered on Shareece Wright.
Baldwin's Big Day: Baldwin had a career game, setting a new single-game high for receptions (8), including two touchdowns. He was outshined by USC freshman Robert Woods, but provided steady production with Ryan Whalen making his first start since the Wake Forest game. Whalen was limited to one catch for 18 yards, while Owusu showed no ill effects of the concussion he suffered against the Ducks. In addition to his 3 catches for 73 yards, his 88-yard kickoff return set up a Stanford score.
Redeption: Whitaker's only field goal of the game was the first game-winning field goal for a Stanford kicker since Mike Biselli beat Notre Dame in 1999. The senior is a perfect 10-for-10 on field goals this season, but has missed three extra points, including one in the fourth quarter against USC. "I rushed it a little bit," said Whitaker, who converted all 53 of his extra point attempts last season.
Redeption Redux: While his second fumble of the game set up USC's go-ahead score, Stepfan Taylor came up big--and held onto the ball--on Stanford's game-winning drive. Taylor's 16-yard run to the right moved Stanford into comfortable field goal range. Taylor finished with 23 carries for 104 yards, his third straight 100-yard effort.
Getting Defensive: The defense, again, struggled against a good offense. Matt Barkley played the game of his life and there wasn't much of a scouting report on Woods, who came one reception shy of matching his season total coming into the game. Still, by halftime it should have been clear that there were two players making things happen for USC offensively. It would've been nice to see some defensive adjustments to stop that. Hats off to the defense for bottling up Allen Bradford, who rushed for more than 200 yards last week.
It wasn't always pretty, and it was certainly more stressful than most fans were anticipating, but it feels good to be 5-1 heading into the bye week. Go Cardinal!