Five years ago, Stanford football ended a seven-year bowl drought and began a stretch of dominance that has raised expectations around the program to new heights. At the center of that team was Toby Gerhart ‘10, in his senior season, and Andrew Luck ‘12, the redshirt freshman who was then just the new kid on the block.
Not only did the two players lead the Cardinal offense in the 2009 season to a berth in the Sun Bowl right before reaching four consecutive BCS bowl games, but they also combined to make some history. From 2009 to 2011, Stanford became the first school in college football history to have the Heisman Trophy runner-up in three consecutive seasons — thanks to Gerhart’s 2009 season in which he finished second in the voting to Mark Ingram by the slimmest margin in the award’s history, and Luck’s 2010 and 2011 seasons.
This past Sunday, the two met as opponents for the second time — the first came in Luck’s second career game in 2012, while Gerhart was with the Vikings. It was a lopsided affair, completely representative of the directions the two teams were headed, as the Colts defeated the Jaguars, 44-17 in Jacksonville.
Luck had a career day — albeit against the NFL’s worst passing defense through three weeks — as he was 31-of-39 (79.5 percent) with 370 yards and four touchdowns. His 140.4 passer rating set a career high, and at one point in the first half, he completed 13 straight passes.
And get this: With his 31 completions in the game, Luck passed none other than his head coach at Stanford, Jim Harbaugh, for the sixth-most completions in Colts history — now with 768 to Harbaugh’s 746.
“It was better than the first two games, that’s for sure,” said Luck after the game. “I do think you get into a rhythm, and I focused about getting completions, no interceptions, getting it to the guy early when he’s open and let him do some stuff with the ball. Again guys ran crisp, clean routes and protection up front makes it a lot easier.”
Coby Fleener ‘12, also a teammate of Luck and Gerhart on the Farm in 2008 and 2009, caught one of Luck’s four touchdown passes and had four receptions overall for 49 total yards.
With the Jaguars down early, Gerhart had few opportunities on the ground, but finished with nine carries for 32 yards and two receptions for 31 yards.
In one of the league’s marquee games of the weekend, Richard Sherman ‘10 and Doug Baldwin ‘11 helped the Seahawks knock off the Broncos again in a rematch of last season’s Super Bowl, 26-20 in overtime.
Baldwin, on his 26th birthday, led Seattle with four receptions for 56 yards in the game, coming up with some key drive-sustaining plays in the second half, after which the Seahawks had a commanding 17-3 lead.
While Peyton Manning led the Broncos to 17 points in the fourth quarter, also assisted by a Seahawks safety and interception that sent the game into overtime, Seattle went on a 13-play, 69-yard touchdown drive in the first possession of overtime to earn the victory.
Sherman had four tackles in the game and one pass defended against the reigning NFL Most Valuable Player.
Contact Jordan Wallach at jwallach ‘at’ stanford.edu.