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Stanford Takes the Moment Over Against USC

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It wasn't quite Ray Lewis, but David Shaw's message to his players before last night's game was great:

Stanford took the moment over in last night's thrilling 21-14 win. Ben Gardner was annoyed that the chatter this week was "all about Woods and Barkley and Lee and Heisman trophies and stuff of that sort," so he and the Cardinal defense made life Hell for the Trojans, sacking their Heisman favorite four times and serving notice that while Andrew Luck may be gone, he's not the only Stanford player who can hit you in the mouth (ahem, Shareece Wright).

I may spend the next two weeks praising the Washington Huskies and Heisman candidate Keith Price in this space.

That Stanford is still a pretty darn good team apparently came as a surprise to USC tight end Randall Telfer, who admitted after the game that the Trojans tried to take the Cardinal lightly. "They're a really good team and we kind of maybe expected it to be handed to us, when that really wasn't the case," Telfer said.

No one else will make the same mistake this season, not after Stanford climbed to No. 9 and No. 11 in the AP and Coaches' polls, respectively.

The Cardinal will have to play better to maintain that lofty ranking throughout the season. They'll have to be better on third down. They'll have to force teams to pay for mistakes. They'll have to score touchdowns when they've got first-and-goal from the 2, and make chip shot field goals on the rare occasion they fail to punch it in.

Today I don't doubt that they will.

Best & Worst and more from last night's game coming later tonight. Elsewhere:

Hank recaps last night's win. | Go Mighty Card

Josh Nunes was the difference for Stanford. | Tim Kawakami

Stanford schools USC again. | SF Chronicle

The Cardinal played the bruiser's role to perfection. | Bruce Jenkins