Are Wildcats simply Luck’s next victims?

While Stanford has proven it can complement Heisman Trophy candidate Andrew Luck with a running game, Arizona is struggling with its rushing offense.

Luck has put up big numbers against the Wildcats in the past heading into Saturday night’s matchup in Tucson for the sixth-ranked Cardinal in the first Pac-12 game for both teams.

Last year’s Heisman runner-up has six touchdowns and one interception for the season after he matched a career high with four touchdown passes and 290 yards in last Saturday’s 44-14 rout at Duke.

Still, it was a running game that outgained the Blue Devils 205-30 on the ground that proved equally vital to creating balance for the Cardinal (2-0).

"The running game, I thought, was great," coach David Shaw said. "I thought it was good from start to finish. We were hitting four, five yards a chunk early on. We were just waiting for the breakout run."

Arizona (1-1) can only envy those kind of numbers. The Wildcats rank last in the conference with 58.0 rushing yards per game after being limited to 41 last Thursday in a 37-14 loss at then-No. 9 Oklahoma State.

"Our inability to run the football offensively leads to kind of a 7-on-7 game," coach Mike Stoops said. "Until we run the ball effectively, that’s good, we move the ball, we get yards, but we can’t be a complete football team."

Keola Antolin carried 13 times for 22 yards while Ka’Deem Carey had six rushes for 19.

It put more pressure on Nick Foles, who completed 37 of 51 passes for 398 yards and one TD. Foles leads the Pac-12 with 810 passing yards, but knows the offense is too one-dimensional.

"You have to be able to run the ball," Foles said. "We have running backs capable, we have the ability to run it and we’ll figure it out. When we start to run the ball the passing game will open up even more. I feel confident in our passing game but we have to start running it better."

The passing game, however, could receive a boost if Juron Criner returns. Criner was the Pac-10’s top receiver last season, but underwent an appendectomy Sept. 5.

It’s unclear if he will play for the Wildcats, who began a challenging three-game stretch against ranked opponents with No. 12 Oregon set to visit next week.

Stanford, meanwhile, has shown no offensive vulnerabilities as it rides a 10-game win streak – the fourth-longest in school history. The Cardinal have produced 101 points this year to tie No. 10 South Carolina for the FBS’s fourth-highest total.

Luck will return to the scene of his most prolific passing game, a 423-yard effort two years ago in a 43-38 loss. He completed 23 of 32 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns in last season’s 42-17 home win over the Wildcats.

Foles, meanwhile, has a 68.7 completion percentage and 663 passing yards in those matchups for Arizona.

That’s why the running game is even more essential in this matchup, and Stanford has a decided edge.

"The bottom line is, they had 11 on the field and we can only block 10," Shaw said. "So someone’s got to be unblocked. We’re trying to challenge the running backs. You’ve got to make somebody miss or break the tackle."

The Cardinal rank second in the nation in rushing defense, allowing 28.5 yards per game.

Luck needs two touchdown passes to move past Jim Plunkett’s 52 for third place on the school’s all-time list behind John Elway and Steve Stenstrom.