Andrew Luck and Jim Harbaugh may have moved on to the NFL, but second-year coach David Shaw and No. 9 Stanford haven’t skipped a beat.
For the first time since 1970-72, the Cardinal improved to 3-0 for the third straight season with their fourth consecutive victory over then-No. 3 USC on Sept. 15, holding the Trojans to only 26 yards rushing and intercepting Heisman Trophy hopeful quarterback Matt Barkley twice in a thrilling 21-14 victory.
However, Stanford (3-0) will face its first road test of the season today when it travels to CenturyLink Field in Seattle to meet Washington (2-1), which will be facing the first of three consecutive ranked opponents.
Josh Nunes has won each of his first three starts, becoming the first Cardinal quarterback since Steve Stenstrom in 1991 to accomplish that feat. While he has managed the team well, much of his early success can be attributed to an offensive line that has allowed only two sacks and a strong running game led by running back Stepfan Taylor, who ranks second in the conference with 112.7 rushing yards per game.
The defense has also been incredible, limiting opponents to 41.7 rushing yards per game — the lowest mark in the nation — and one passing score through three contests.
Despite Stanford’s defensive prowess to this point, sophomore tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins could present matchup problems. Seferian-Jenkins, who ranks third in the country among tight ends with 20 receptions, is a legitimate NFL prospect at 6 feet 6, 258 pounds and likely the most athletic tight end the Cardinal will face this
The Huskies rebounded from a 41-3 drubbing Sept. 8 at LSU with a 52-13 rout of Portland State the following week.