Stanford shocked the college football world by defeating USC on Saturday night, but the team needs more production out of Josh Nunes to keep the successful season going.
The Cardinal defense was outstanding in the upset win. It held the high-powered Trojan attack to 14 points, forced future-NFL quarterback Matt Barkley into throwing two interceptions and held the run game to 26 yards on 28 carries.
It was an incredible showing against an offense that had scored 91 points in its first two games.
Quarterback Josh Nunes did his part as well, tossing two touchdowns to keep his team in front. However, he did not remind Stanford fans of Andrew Luck, the man he replaced.
In the game, Nunes completed only 15 of his 32 pass attempts, dropping his season completion percentage to 53.4 percent. This type of accuracy will not cut it in most games at this level.
He also threw two interceptions in the second quarter when his team had a chance to tie the game early.
Fortunately, Stanford got great production from senior Stepfan Taylor. The running back ran for 153 yards, including a 59-yard touchdown to start off the scoring for the Cardinal. He was the focal point of the offense throughout the game and had some impressive carries to keep possession in the fourth quarter.
However, the win over the Trojans now raises expectations for the rest of the season. The program has reached a BCS Bowl in each of the past two years and has now proved it can contend in an improved Pac-12. Not reaching the BCS stage would not really be considered a disappointment, but the team must build off this victory to have a successful year.
In order for that to happen, Nunes must be more consistent. He showed some signs of brilliance, including an accurate throw on the go-ahead touchdown to Zach Ertz. He also showed his toughness in his ability to run for first downs late in the game.
Still, his defense will not be able to bail him out every game. Notre Dame, Arizona, UCLA and Oregon loom on the schedule, and it will be difficult for Stanford to beat those teams unless the quarterback starts throwing with more accuracy.
There will be very few fans disappointed after watching their team defeat the No. 2 team in the country, but it is good to know that Stanford can get even better.
If Nunes makes better decisions and throws more accurate passes, the Cardinal can become one of the best teams in the country by the end of the year.
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