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No. 9 Stanford looking forward, not back

Stanford players celebrate a 21-14 win over Southern California during an NCAA college football game in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP | AP

STANFORD — David Shaw came home late Saturday night and his wife, Kori, already wanted to watch the television replay of his Stanford team’s 21-14 upset over Southern California.

By the time Shaw woke up Sunday morning, more than 200 text messages had piled up on his phone — some from people he didn’t even know had his number. Not to mention the countless calls and emails the second-year head coach has received since.

With a bye this week before playing at Washington (2-1) on Sept. 27, staying focused might be the toughest test for the No. 9 Cardinal (3-0, 1-0) after a physical and formidable win against Matt Barkley and the favored Trojans caught everybody’s attention in the Pac-12 this season.



“I don’t want to treat it like a national holiday,” Shaw said Tuesday. “We won a football game. Great. We have another one in about 10 days.”

Suddenly, though, the stakes are even higher.




Stanford’s stampede past a program expected to contend for the national title — outgaining the Trojans 417 to 280 in total yards, holding USC to 26 yards rushing and forcing Barkley into two interceptions — has reshaped expectations in what was supposed to be a transitional year with Andrew Luck and several other key contributors now on NFL sidelines.

New quarterback Josh Nunes was hardly Luck-like, except for a pair of game-changing scrambles for first downs late that even left his coach “shocked.” But Nunes did just enough with a powerful running game led by Maxwell Award Player of the Week Stepfan Taylor, a defense that bullied and bruised Barkley and never allowed All-American receiver Robert Woods and rising star Marqise Lee to break free.

Shaw clicked over his television to another channel later that night and no celebratory toast, for one, because he’s “never had a drink of alcohol in my life.” Also because he knows Washington is the first stop in a difficult road schedule that also includes games at No. 3 Oregon and No. 11 Notre Dame this season.

“I live in a world of anxiety,” he joked.

Stanford has absorbed Luck’s departure better than most imagined, similar to the way it did the loss of 2009 Heisman Trophy runner-up Toby Gerhart and coach Jim Harbaugh after the 2010 season. The win against USC certainly sent shockwaves across the conference, and Stanford is no longer surprising anybody anymore this year.

“They’ve been able to carry on and they’ve got the combination of really good coaching and very good talent. They can match up with anybody,” said Oregon State coach Mike Riley, whose team visits Stanford Stadium on Nov. 10. “I wasn’t shocked by it. SC has been so hot, though, I was surprised they didn’t get many points.”


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