Luck is the draw when No. 7 Stanford host Colorado
Not so long ago, filling Stanford Stadium to its 50,000-seat capacity for a matchup against a non-ranked opponent would have seemed improbable. Now even the planet's most recognized athlete may have to pull some strings to be in attendance.
A little Luck makes a big difference.
Playing a 45-minute drive down the California coast this week in San Martin, former Stanford standout Tiger Woods only half-joked about the obstacles of making it to the sideline when the seventh-ranked Cardinal host Colorado on Saturday night.
''I'd like to (go),'' he said. ''I hope I can get tickets.''
Tiger isn't the only Stanford man who knows how to draw a crowd.
Andrew Luck, last season's Heisman Trophy runner-up to Auburn's Cam Newton, is showing NFL scouts he can do more than just throw. The quarterback called his own plays and even dazzled with a one-handed catch last week in a highlight-filled rout of UCLA that might have been his best all-around performance yet this year.
Everybody on The Farm is giddy for an encore.
Luck has been given complete autonomy to call plays in the no-huddle offense, which the Cardinal (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) ran for long stretches against the Bruins for the first time. Stanford coach David Shaw promises the scheme will only become a larger part of the offense, starting against the Buffaloes (1-4, 0-1) in front of what is expected to be another sellout crowd.
''I knew for a long time that if you give a quarterback something he really loves,'' Shaw said, ''he tries to do his best at it because he wants that opportunity to come again.''
While Luck has generated attention this week with his play, Colorado wants to finally make some noise on the field.
First-year Buffaloes coach Jon Embree declared he was tired of losing and ripped into his team after Washington State's stunning 31-27 comeback win in Boulder last Saturday. Colorado led by 10 in the final three minutes.
Embree hopes his latest outburst rallies the program the way it once did a few decades ago.
The former Buffaloes tight end remembers an 0-4 start his senior year in 1985. Some of the other seniors ''had enough,'' as he also put it so eloquently last week in his postgame news conference, and ran off five straight wins - including rallying at Oklahoma State after Embree threw a ''tantrum'' in the locker room at halftime.
''That's who I've been,'' Embree said. ''And we'll see if we can change it.''
This week, it might take some luck.
Embree has suspended five defensive players indefinitely for violating unspecified team rules, including starting defensive back Parker Orms. Backup cornerbacks Josh Moten, Ayodeji Olatoye and Paul Vigo, along with linebacker Liloa Nobriga, also are suspended.
Not that the Colorado defense didn't have enough to worry about already. Luck has thrown for 1,013 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception - and that came on a ball tipped by a receiver - and has shredded every defense he's faced so far.
The Cardinal have beaten San Jose State, Duke, Arizona and UCLA by a combined score of 183-46 behind Luck.
''He's kind of like the Peyton Manning of college football,'' Buffaloes quarterback Tyler Hansen said. ''Some parts of the game they ask him to call his own plays and that's pretty impressive. He's a unique player that only comes around once in a couple of years.''
Luck has been nothing if not modest about his game. He downplayed the significance of his play-calling abilities, even suggesting that one of his linemen or receivers could bark out orders and run the offense.
''There's really not much to it,'' Luck said.
Everybody from pro scouts to the world's former top-ranked golfer can't help but marvel at Luck's talent.
Woods, for instance, hasn't made it to a Stanford game since the program lost to rival California two years ago. Coming up from the Frys.com Open this weekend might be his last opportunity to see Luck as a Cardinal.
While Woods left Stanford after only two years in 1996, watching Luck return as a fourth-year junior at Stanford this season is a welcome sign for one the program's most famous fans.
''He's a hell of a lot smarter than I was,'' Woods said.
AP Sports Writer Arnie Stapleton in Boulder, Colo., and AP Golf Writer Doug Ferguson in San Martin, Calif., contributed to this story.