STANFORD, Calif. -- Stanford put together a complete performance that finally put last year's collapse at Arizona to rest.
Andrew Luck threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns and the Stanford defense avenged last season's loss by helping the Cardinal (No. 13 BCS, No. 10 AP) to a 42-17 victory in their highly anticipated showdown with Arizona (No. 15 BCS, No. 13 AP) on Saturday night.
"Every day, every moment, that's all you remember," defensive back Michael Thomas said of last season's 43-38 defeat. "Even at halftime, guys were like, 'Remember what happened last year. Go out there make sure nobody is smiling, nobody is thinking we won the game. We haven't done anything yet.' Last year, that sat in us, that burned in us for all offseason, all this week and throughout the whole day."
Stanford (8-1, 5-1 Pac-10) built a 21-3 halftime lead and never let up. Stepfan Taylor scored two of his four touchdowns in the second half to help the Cardinal beat Arizona (7-2, 4-2) in the first meeting when both teams were ranked.
The Cardinal are enjoying their best season in 40 years and are alone in second place in the Pac-10, keeping alive their hopes for a Rose Bowl bid if they can win their final three games. Stanford would also need No. 1 Oregon to lose twice in order to win the conference or hope the Rose Bowl is not obligated to take a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference.
The players say they're not concerned about bowl bids and BCS rankings right now, focusing only on the task at hand each week.
"I know there's many different situations about bowl games and what not," Luck said. "That all doesn't really matter unless we win. So we're taking it like that."
Luck masterfully executed the offense, which put up six touchdowns and 516 yards against the stingiest defense in the Pac-10. Chris Owusu was especially dangerous with nine catches for 165 yards and a score, as well as a key 12-yard run. Stanford also allowed no sacks to a team that led the league with 27 coming into the game.
The defense also did a good job against the Wildcats, who didn't get the offense moving until it was far too late despite the return of injured quarterback Nick Foles.
"We got off to a bad start and didn't execute well enough," Arizona coach Mike Stoops said. "They outexecuted is, outplayed us, outphysicaled us, outcoached us. We just got beat by a better team today."
Foles threw for 248 yards, one touchdown and one interception, with his biggest success coming when the Wildcats went to the no-huddle offense with a big deficit in the second half. Keola Antolin ran for 86 yards and another score on a night starting running back Nic Grigsby played sparingly because of a sprained right ankle.
The Cardinal were still smarting over last year's loss at Arizona, when they allowed two big fourth-quarter touchdown runs. But they made sure there would be no repeat this season. Stanford scored on its opening drive of the second half on a 5-yard shovel pass from Luck to Tyler Gaffney to make it 28-3.
Stanford then answered Arizona's first touchdown of the game -- a 7-yard pass from Foles to Juron Criner -- with a 78-yard drive capped by Taylor's third TD run to make it 35-10 and give the Cardinal their ninth straight 30-point game. Taylor added his fourth TD with 3:23 to go to make it 42-17.
Luck finished 23 for 32 and has completed 75 percent of his passes the past four games with nine touchdowns and only two interceptions. He threw a 45-yard TD pass to Owusu on the opening drive of the game and never let up.
"He played a tremendous game," coach Jim Harbaugh said. "Some of the throws he made in some really tight, tight areas. Those are big-boy throws. Those are big-league type of throws when you're putting a ball on the line 35, 40 yards down the field staring into a rush. It's very NFL-like the way he executes out there on the field."
Taylor added a pair of TD runs in the second quarter to build the lead to 21-3 at the break. The first capped an 89-yard drive that featured an 18-yard pass from Luck to Owusu on third-and-15. The second came after Owusu gained 12 yards on a perfectly executed option play by Luck.
"They came out and had great execution," cornerback Robert Golden said. "They came out with some trickery which we hadn't see on film and it took awhile to adjust. We just had to come back and regroup."
The Wildcats blew a couple of good early scoring opportunities. They drove to the 20 on their opening drive but Foles was called for intentional grounding at the 34 and Arizona punted. A.J. Simmons dropped a potential first-down catch at the 10, stalling another drive that led to a field goal by Alex Zendejas.
Foles threw an interception late in the half after getting to the 27.