One of the biggest on-going stories in the 2011 college football season has been the exploits of Heisman trophy candidate Andrew Luck as the Stanford Cardinals make a push for the national championship. Although a 53-30 loss to Oregon has derailed the Cardinals’ hopes to win the national title, Luck has continued to be a hot topic as the 9-1 Stanford squad attempts to punch their BCS ticket to one of college football’s elite holiday bowls. With expected season-ending wins against Cal and Notre Dame, first-year coach David Shaw has his team poised to step into one of the premier games as Luck finishes his illustrious career.
While Stanford has been noted for a powerful offense spearheaded by Luck, the Cardinals have also enjoyed a bruising defense that has helped the team achieve a +26 point per game differential in spite of its 23-point loss to Oregon. A surprisingly balanced offense, the Cardinals average 279 yards of passing and 215 rushing yards, good enough for national standings of 22nd and 19th respectively. Ranked 5th in points per game, the team balances its effort with a 25th ranked defense at 20.2 points per game. The points-against number would be even lower if not for the 53 scored by Oregon and 48 points that USC put up in a triple overtime thriller on October 29th.
Stanford will most likely be lining up against a BCS contender in one of the prime post-New Years Day bouts. The Tostitos Fiesta Bowl is the probable destination, with a matchup against either Oklahoma City or Oklahoma possible; a tantalizing game can be expected against either foe. Regardless of who the Stanford Cardinals play in the holiday bowls, it is certain that the likely Pac-12 champs will bring their balanced attack and expect to win, since they do have Luck on their side.