Continued from page 1

MOVING UP

No. 9 Stanford shot up 12 spots after beating USC for the fourth straight season, and No. 11 Notre Dame rose nine places after dominating Michigan State 20-3 in East Lansing, Mich.

The Cardinal are proving there is life and prosperity after Andrew Luck. The assumption was when the two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up moved on to the NFL, Stanford would slip back into the Pac-12 pack.

Well, it seems as if the Cardinal are going to be a conference contender again. New quarterback Josh Nunes is no Luck, but the foundation of Stanford’s success since Jim Harbaugh took over the program in 2007 has been power.

“I have been saying it for years, even before I became head coach: This game isn’t about who you play, it is about how you play,” said coach David Shaw, who replaced Harbaugh last season.

The Cardinal’s running game sputtered in its first two weeks, cranking out only 247 yards total against San Jose State and Duke.

Stepfan Taylor and Stanford looked more like themselves against USC with 202 yards on the ground. On defense, the Cardinal’s big and strong front seven led by Trent Murphy and Chase Thomas exposed USC’s one offensive weakness — its line.

Without Luck, Stanford is still a tough and physical team.

Tough and physical are now a way to describe Notre Dame — for the first time in a long while.

Behind linebacker Manti Te’o and defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt, the Irish smothered the Spartans, allowing 237 total yards, only 50 on the ground.

The Irish and Cardinal meet in South Bend, Ind., on Oct. 13.

MOVING DOWN

There were signs last week, in No. 13 USC’s 42-29 victory against Syracuse at MetLife Stadium, that the Trojans’ line play would be a problem.

Even before the season, there were fears that USC’s defensive line looked thin and the offensive line less-than-dominant. But there was so much talent and skill on both sides of the ball, including Heisman Trophy favorite Matt Barkley at quarterback, it was easy to overlook potential problems.

“We obviously did not have an answer (for their defense),” Barkley told reporters after the game.

Story Continues →