Instant analysis: Stanford 21, California 3

BERKELEY, Calif. -- If the Stanford defense always played the way it did Saturday against Cal, Cardinal fans could get used to the Big Game being played in October.

The 115th meeting between the two Bay Area schools epitomized the type of game coach David Shaw would like to see each week as the Cardinal rode a physical running attack and a stout defense to a 21-3 win.

Here are a few highlights from the Cardinal's third straight win against Cal:

It was over when: Cal running back Isi Sofele was dropped for a loss of two yards on a fourth-and-1 from the Cal 42-yard line early in the fourth quarter. Stanford QB Josh Nunes ended up throwing an interception a few plays later, but it was clear Cal wasn’t going to come back trailing 21-3.

Game ball goes to: Stanford defense. Ben Gardner, Shayne Skov, Chase Thomas and just about everyone on the unit contributed positively as the Cardinal kept Cal out of the end zone.

Stat of the game: Stanford running back Stepfan Taylor passed Toby Gerhart for No. 2 on the school’s all-time rushing list. He finished the game with 28 carries for 189 yards and has run for 3,616 yards in his four-year career. With five regular-season games left, Taylor needs to average 84 yards a game to pass all-time leader Darrin Nelson (4,033).

Unsung hero: Gardner. Gardner has quietly become one of the steadiest forces in the Pac-12. His physical play up front sets the tone, which the rest of the defense feeds off of.

What it means: First, it means the Cardinal are not immune to offensive touchdowns on the road. Before a 7-yard touchdown run by Taylor in the first quarter, Stanford had not scored a road offensive touchdown this year. Its previous offensive touchdown during a road game came at Oregon State on Nov. 5, 2011. With games against Washington State and Colorado coming the next two weeks, Stanford will expect to be 7-2 (4-1 Pac-12) when it hosts No. 8 Oregon State on Nov. 10.