Midseason report: Stanford

Stanford Cardinal

Record: 5-1 (2-1 Pac-10)

Stanford was as dominating as any team in the nation while rolling to a 4-0 start. The defense looked much improved, and talented quarterback Andrew Luck was still getting support from a strong power running game. The Cardinal pushed into the top-10 and headed to Oregon for a blockbuster game that even attracted ESPN's "College GameDay."

But after rolling to an early 21-3 lead, the Ducks exploded and won 52-31. It was clear that, despite huge improvements under Jim Harbaugh, the Cardinal still had a speed disadvantage that could be exploited on defense.

Stanford bounced back last weekend with a win over USC. While the game was closer than many had expected, the Cardinal's late drive for the winning field goal showed it could also win a close game with clutch play.

It figures they will have a number of those over the second half of the season.

Offensive MVP: Luck has lived up to the preseason hype. He ranks 10th in the nation in passing efficiency. He's completed 66 percent of his passes, averaging 256 yards per game and has 16 touchdowns to just four interceptions. He's also the Cardinal's second-leading rusher with 242 yards -- 7.8 yards per carry average -- and two touchdowns.

Defensive MVP: True sophomore linebacker Shayne Skov is one of the bright defensive talents in the conference. In just four games, he's second on the team with 34 tackles. He also has four tackles for a loss, two sacks and a forced fumble.