PULLMAN — Washington State cornerback Daniel Simmons said he expected Heisman Trophy favorite Andrew Luck to “test our manhood as a secondary” during Saturday’s game with unbeaten Stanford.
The Cougars played like men, but the seventh-ranked Cardinal had bigger and better men, starting with Luck.
Luck, projected by many to be the No. 1 pick in next year’s NFL draft, threw four touchdown passes — all in the second half — and finished with 336 passing yards to lead seventh-ranked Stanford past Washington State, 44-14.
“In the first half, Andrew Luck looked like a good football player,” WSU coach Paul Wulff said. “In the second half, he looked like a great football player.”
The Cougars (3-3, 1-2 Pacific-12 Conference) drew a season-high 30,843 fans for homecoming at Martin Stadium.
The Cardinal (6-0, 4-0) set a school record with its 14th straight win. Stanford owns the longest winning streak in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Luck, taking advantage of Stanford’s unusually big, talented and deep crew of tight ends, completed 13 of 20 passes for 247 yards after the Cardinal built a 10-7 halftime lead. Three of Luck’s scoring passes went to tight ends, who play a major role in Stanford’s passing attack.
“They started using the tight ends more in the second half,” Simmons said. “Maybe that’s what made him (Luck) go from good to great.”
WSU safety Deone Bucannon, who led all players with 11 tackles, was impressed with the Stanford tight ends.
“They’re probably the biggest tight ends I’ve ever seen,” he said. “Probably the most athletic I’ve played against.”
Levine Toilolo, a 6-foot-8, 262-pound tight end, hauled in 10- and 26-yard passes from Luck for touchdowns in the third quarter. Coby Fleener, a 6-6, 254-pound tight end, grabbed a 28-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
“I felt like the secondary, we covered pretty well,” Simmons said. “When you’re playing a guy like that (Luck), he’s going to get his.”
Bucannon added: “He’s a great quarterback. The best I’ve played against.”
WSU quarterback Jeff Tuel showed plenty of rust in his first start of the season.
Tuel, who made a brief appearance in the season opener before breaking his left collarbone, completed 17 of 30 passes for 145 yards, no touchdowns and no interceptions.
Tuel was victimized by several dropped passes, and he faced a strong pass rush. Tuel was sacked five times, and he showed great skill in avoiding several other sacks.
“There’s not much room for error with a club like that,” Tuel said, “and they’re bringing the heat (pass rush).”
Wulff said he plans to start Tuel next Saturday against Oregon State (1-5, 1-3) in Seattle.
Marshall Lobbestael, who started the first five games, replaced Tuel on Washington State’s final possession and completed 7 of 9 passes for 64 yards before scoring on a 1-yard run.