STANFORD, Calif. — Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson powered seventh-ranked Stanford to a school-record 446 yards rushing to blow past No. 22 Washington 65-21 on Saturday night.
The running backs gave Heisman Trophy hopeful Andrew Luck some rest as the Cardinal (7-0, 5-0 Pac-12) extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 15 games. Taylor ran for 138 yards, Gaffney 117 yards and Wilkerson 93 yards to break the previous team mark of 439 in a victory over Oregon State in 1981.
Facing the first ranked opponent of the season, Stanford pounded the Huskies (5-2, 4-1) in a critical Pac-12 North matchup.
Chris Polk ran for scores from 46 and 61 yards in the first half to keep Washington close early. He finished with 144 yards rushing as the Cardinal’s defense clamped down.
Luck threw for 169 yards and two touchdowns and completed 16 of 21 passes but was overshadowed — for once — by a running game that has quietly been among the nation’s best the last few years. No matter what happens next week at Southern California, the victory also almost guarantees that Nov. 12 matchup against Oregon at Stanford Stadium will decide the North’s representative in the inaugural Pac-12 championship game.
Taylor and Gaffney each ran for a touchdown and Wilkerson had two. Wilkerson’s 38-yard scamper late in the fourth quarter gave Stanford the most yards rushing in a single game, eclipsing a 439-yard mark set in a victory at Oregon State in 1981.
A week after a poor first-half showing at Washington State, Stanford started with a 76-yard drive on six plays capped by Jeremy Stewart’s 2-yard TD run. Jordan Williamson kicked the first of his three field goals from 39 yards to put the Cardinal ahead 10-0.
Polk broke two tackles up the sideline on 41-yard touchdown run for his first score. Then he sprinted untouched through the middle for 61 yards to bring the Huskies within 17-14 early in the second quarter.
Just when it seemed the Cardinal might finally be tested, they ran away from yet another opponent.
Taylor ripped through a seem on Stanford’s next play from scrimmage, running 70 yards for a touchdown without receiving so much as a hand swipe. Luck followed by connecting with Drew Terrell from 5 yards out for his second touchdown pass to give the Cardinal a 31-14 lead.
In a half where the offenses ran wild, the biggest play might have come on defense.
Michael Thomas broke the game open when he stepped in front of a receiver over the middle and picked off a pass from Price. He raced 62 yards down the sideline, stepping over the diving quarterback to put Stanford ahead 38-14 at the break.
The Huskies, who were shutout 41-0 by Stanford last year in Seattle, had entered the Top 25 for the first time in two seasons this week behind Price, who entered game tied with Boise State’s Kellen Moore for second in the country with 21 touchdown passes. Price’s 2-yard TD pass to Evan Hudson that came early in the third quarter came with the game already a blowout.
Stanford still led 48-21 after the score, which was Hudson’s first career reception. While Price was sacked only twice, he was under constant pressure. The sophomore finished with 247 yards passing.
Gaffney, anchoring the wildcat formation, had runs of 14 and 34 yards before capping off Stanford’s first drive of the second half with a 4-yard TD. Taylor and Gaffney became the 10th running back duo in school history to rush for 100-yard running games.