Stanford Cardinal quarterback Andrew Luck gets most of the publicity when it comes to the 2011 Stanford football team, but for much of his career he has also benefitted from a dominant rushing attack. Even when Luck struggles, the Cardinal running backs have done a great job leading the power rushing attack that former coach Jim Harbaugh installed and has since brought to the San Francisco 49ers.
The leader of the rushing attack is junior tailback Stepfan Taylor. Although Stanford does have numerous rushing options, Taylor is the workhorse that drives this offense. He has stepped up his game on a day in which Andrew Luck has struggled and has propelled the Cardinal to a 31-13 lead. Taylor has rushed 13 times for 95 yards and a touchdown, while adding in a pair of catches for 26 yards and a receiving touchdown.
The Stanford defense has been equally as important. The Cardinal offense is finally turning on the jets, but the defense did enough early on so that Stanford was not put in a position of panic by a possible early deficit. The defense has held Oregon State to 28 rushing yards and picked up a pair of key back-to-back sacks and a fumble recovery on a late third quarter Oregon State drive. Stanford had scored a touchdown to take a 24-13 lead and the defense went for the throat on the next drive. After an incomplete pass, Trent Murphy and Chase Thomas sacked Beavers QB Sean Mannion on back to back plays. Mannion fumbled on the second sack and Stanford quickly capitalized with a touchdown.