SEATTLE - Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck outclassed Jake Locker, and it wasn’t even close.
Luck ran for a 51-yard touchdown the first time he carried the ball, directed Stanford to touchdowns on its first four possession, and the 13th-ranked Cardinal routed Washington 41-0 on Saturday.
The anticipated matchup of Luck and Locker, two of the most highly touted NFL draft prospects for next spring brought out nearly 20 NFL scouts.
What they saw was completely one-sided.
Along with his TD run, the sophomore quarterback completed 19 of 26 passes for 192 yards and threw a 3-yard TD pass to Zach Ertz on the final play of the third quarter. Stanford punted just once and scored on five of its first six possessions. The only miscue of the entire, rainy afternoon, was a jump ball on the final play of the first half that Nate Fellner wrestled away for the sixth interception of the season.
Otherwise, Luck was nearly perfect. He had one pass dropped and another fell incomplete when he was hit as he threw. But mostly Luck was playing catch with wide open receivers finding plenty of space in Washington’s secondary that already ranked in the bottom half of the Pac-10 in most defensive categories.
And Luck added 92 yards rushing. Stepfan Taylor ran for a pair of short touchdowns as part of his 97 yards for the Cardinal (7-1, 4-1 Pac-10), who improved on the best start at Stanford in 40 years.
But equal to Luck’s performance was the impressive number that Stanford’s defense did on Washington. The Huskies’ scoreless streak reached 97:55. Washington was shut out the final 37:55 at Arizona last week, then held scoreless at home for the first time since losing to California 7-0 in 1976.
And it’s now clear for the Huskies (3-5, 2-3) that, baring a giant upset next week at No. 1 Oregon, they will have to win their final three games to reach bowl eligibility.
Locker rarely had time to throw and when he did, his inaccuracy surfaced again. He completed just 7 of 14 passes for 64 yards and threw a pair of interceptions. Locker was picked off in the third quarter when leading receiver Jermaine Kearse stopped his slant route and Locker threw directly to cornerback Johnson Bademosi. Delano Howell intercepted Locker in the fourth quarter on an overthrown pass.
Washington entered the fourth quarter with just 54 yards of offense and finished with 107 yards, getting a rousing cheer of sarcasm when they finally reach the 100-yard mark with 3:30 left.
As coach Steve Sarkisian told the Huskies radio broadcast at halftime, it was the “worst offensive half of football” he’s ever been associated with. It was still the worst effort by Washington since managing just 102 yards at Oregon in 1973.
Stanford posted its second shutout of the season following its 35-0 win over UCLA. It was the first time Stanford shut out two teams since 1972.
Luck and Stanford chewed through the Huskies’ defense for 318 yards in the first half — and with remarkable balance, 156 through the air, 162 on the ground. Taylor had touchdown runs of 3 and 2 yards as Stanford needed just 21 minutes, 22 seconds to take a 28-0 lead.
Luck’s touchdown run was the second longest of his career, but quite possibly the easiest. With safety Nate Williams crashing hard on the run fake, Luck ran off left tackle and went untouched for the score.
If Washington’s play wasn’t bad enough, a miserable cold driving rain finally sent most of the announced crowd of nearly 70,000 off to Halloween parties by halftime.