Instant analysis: Stanford 20, SJSU 17

The No. 21 Stanford Cardinal began life anew without Andrew Luck with a not-so-pretty 20-17 victory over San Jose State. It was Stanford’s ninth win in the last 10 meetings with the Spartans. Here’s how it all went down in Palo Alto, Calif.

It was over when: Locked -- surprisingly -- at 17-17 toward the end of the third quarter, Alex Debniak forced a San Jose State fumble on a third-and-long and Stanford’s Usua Amanam recovered at the SJSU 38. The Cardinal worked their way to the SJSU 3-yard line and Jordan Williamson capped the drive with a 20-yard, go-ahead field goal. The Spartans had one last chance late in the fourth, but Ed Reynolds picked off David Fales on fourth-and-10 to secure the win.

Game ball goes to: Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor turned in a steady performance, rushing for 124 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown.

Stat of the game: Last year Stanford was third in the nation on third-down conversions (52.57 percent). Against the Spartans, Stanford was just 2-of-13.

Unsung hero: Stanford corner/nickelback Amanam had two sacks -- both on CB blitzes -- a tackle for a loss and also had the crucial fumble recovery that swung the momentum back into Stanford’s favor.

What it means: For large portions of the game, Stanford was pushed around at the point of attack on both sides of the ball. That has to be a huge concern -- particularly on defense -- where the Cardinal are supposed to boast one of the top front-sevens in the conference.

What it means, take 2: The Cardinal were also benefactors of various SJSU mistakes -- dropped balls, bad penalties etc. Safe bet that most teams in the Pac-12 won’t be so generous.

Quotable: "Our guys responded to some challenges -- some challenges that we made for ourselves that we have to go back and get fixed," said Stanford head coach David Shaw.