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The post-Andrew Luck era begins at Stanford on Friday night against San Jose State as Josh Nunes attempts to fill the two-time Heisman finalist’s shoes. The Cardinal are 25.5-point favorites on WagerWeb.com.
Nunes didn’t play a down in two of his first three years at Stanford. His only action came while backing up Luck in four games in 2010. He has attempted just two passes as a collegian, completing one, for 7 yards. Yet Nunes beat out Brett Nottingham, Luck’s backup in 2011.
“Josh has been the most consistent. It’s not just about throwing the ball. We need to be able to change the plays at the line of scrimmage,” coach David Shaw said.
Stanford is coming off back-to-back seasons that ended with BCS berths. Last year the Cardinal shook off the loss of head coach Jim Harbaugh to go 11-2 and reach the Fiesta Bowl, losing to Oklahoma State. Luck was a two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up and was 31-8 as a three-year starter.
The Cardinal will be without their best defensive player vs. San Jose State as linebacker Shayne Skov serves a one-game DUI suspension, A.J. Tarpley will replace him at inside linebacker. Last year’s Cardinal defense was among the Pac-12′s best, ranking second in scoring (21.9 points per game) to Utah and second in total defense (337.6 yards per game) behind rival California. Skov led Stanford with 84 tackles and had 7 1/2 sacks two years ago. He likely would’ve entered April’s NFL draft if not for his left knee buckling when Wildcats receiver Juron Criner barreled into him early last season.
San Jose State had a much better 2011 campaign as compared to head coach Mike MacIntyre’s first season. However that does not look as impressive considering the Spartans went 1-12 in 2010. Still the 5-7 mark the team posted last year was the its best since 2008. This will be the fourth straight season in which San Jose State opens against a nationally-ranked team.
Community college transfer David Fales was recently named San Jose State’s starting QB.
The 6-foot-3, 220-pound transfer from Monterey Peninsula College joined the Spartans for 2012 spring practice after completing 61.8 percent of his passes for 4,635 yards and 37 touchdowns in two seasons. He began his college career in 2009 at the University of Nevada and redshirted that season.
Stanford leads the all-time series, 50-14-1. The Cardinal have victories in the last four meetings between these teams including a 57-3 decision to open 2011. San Jose State’s last win in the series was a 35-34 victory in Spartan Stadium on September 9, 2006. The Spartans seek their first win in Stanford Stadium in eight tries. San Jose State’s last victory in Stanford Stadium was a 40-27 triumph on September 9, 2000.