SEATTLE -- Andrew Luck's numbers were far from overwhelming, but that's not what stood out to Jim Harbaugh.
It was Luck doing something as simple as recognizing an overloaded line of scrimmage, changing a run play and keeping the ball for a 16-yard gain. Or his first-quarter fake, when Harbaugh was sure Stepfan Taylor was running for a 15-yard gain, only to then realize Luck was running untouched down the opposite side for a 51-yard touchdown.
"To be mentally understanding the game the way he does is just remarkable," Harbaugh said.
Luck ran for one score, threw for another and directed Stanford to touchdowns on its first four possessions as the 13th-ranked Cardinal routed Washington 41-0 on Saturday.
The anticipated matchup of Luck against Washington quarterback Jake Locker brought out nearly 20 NFL scouts to see two of the most highly touted draft prospects for next spring.
What they saw was completely one-sided, thanks to Stanford's defense that shut out Washington at home for the first time since 1976 and held the Huskies to their worst offensive performance in 37 years.
"That's definitely the worst offensive performance I've ever been associated with," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.
While Washington reached a new low in Sarkisian's second year of bipolar performances, Harbaugh was trying to make a case that Luck should be reinserted into the Heisman Trophy conversation.
"Let's open up the Heisman discussion a little bit. This Andrew Luck is a great, great football player," Harbaugh said.
No one with Washington (3-5, 2-3 Pac-10) would disagree.
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 (7-1, 4-1) 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 to give Luck his 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 if that wasn't enough, Luck added 92 yards rushing.
"I don't think I thought we'd be up 28-0 at halftime," Luck said. "Obviously, you've got to have confidence going into a game that you can do well, but I didn't really expect that. It worked out well."
Taylor ran for a pair of short touchdowns as part of his 104 yards for the Cardinal, 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.
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 reached the 100-yard mark with 3:30 left.It was the worst effort by Washington since managing just 102 yards at Oregon in 1973. The 107 yards allowed was the second best defensive effort in Stanford history, while the Cardinal posted two shutouts in the same season for the first time since 1972.
"This defense is more talented than what we have shown the past couple of weeks and we made it extra motivation to get back on track and show the Pac-10 that this defense is a force," Stanford linebacker Shane Skov said.
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.
"I'm kind of with Coach ... I don't know kind of where to begin," a befuddled Locker said.
Locker was sacked three times and looked lost on many of his throws. Washington safety Nate Williams looked lost as well on Luck's TD run in the first quarter, biting hard on the fake then seeing Luck sprint for the second longest TD run of his career.
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 less than 22 minutes to take a 28-0 lead.
If Washington's play wasn't bad enough, the cold rain finally sent most of the announced crowd of nearly 70,000 off to Halloween parties by halftime.
"We obviously hit rock bottom tonight," Sarkisian said. "This was a very disappointing performance."
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