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Rule of Tree Rewind: Stanford Survives Washington State

It wasn't always pretty, but Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor slogged their way to a 38-28 win over Washington State on Saturday.
It wasn't always pretty, but Andrew Luck and Stepfan Taylor slogged their way to a 38-28 win over Washington State on Saturday.

They probably won't be making any T-shirts about Saturday's 38-28 win over Washington State. A commemorative poncho, the kind intended to be thrown away after one use, would be more appropriate. Two days after the fact, I won't spend too much time rehashing this one.

Stanford never trailed and took a commanding lead into halftime on the strength of two Stepfan Taylor touchdown runs, but the Cardinal looked flat, committed too many penalties, and was outscored 21-7 in the fourth quarter. During the postgame press conference, Andrew Luck addressed the Cardinal's missed opportunities and sluggish play following a bye week.

"We just didn't play up to our standard," said Luck, who called Stanford's performance a little disappointing.

Head coach Jim Harbaugh was more critical."It really comes down to just some guys not doing what they were supposed to be doing, and at times it looked atrocious," he said.

Stanford starting safety Delano Howell missed the game with a wrist injury and Washington State quarterback Jeff Tuel took advantage. The sophomore threw for 298 yards and 4 touchdowns, and if not for the two interceptions he threw that led to Stanford touchdowns, Saturday's win, which made the Cardinal 6-1 for the first time since 1970, may have been a little too close for comfort.

I was way off in my prediction that Luck's passing attempts would be down. With the Cardinal holding a 15-minute advantage in time of possession, there was ample time for Luck to do his thing--20-for-28, 190 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT--and for the Stanford running game to chew up yards against the Cougars' porous defense. Taylor rushed for 142 yards on 27 carries, becoming only the fourth Cardinal running back to top 100 yards in four consecutive games. Anthony Wilkerson also ran well, finishing with 55 yards on 9 carries.

Harbaugh alluded to it after the game and the Daily Axe mentioned it, too: the Homecoming turnout was sad, light rain and all. There's no reason the spirited, but small, contingent of Washington State fans should've been audible. Umbrellas up to everyone who braved the drizzle. Now it's time for Stanford to throw away the poncho from sloppy win and get ready for Washington. A similar performance in Seattle could spell defeat.