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No. 4 Stanford's streak bringing added spotlight

By Antonio Gonzalez

Associated Press

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 25 2011 5:21 p.m. MDT

Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck smiles on the sidelines in the final minute of an NCAA college football game against Washington in Stanford, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011. Stanford defeated Washingotn 65-21.

Paul Sakuma, Associated Press

STANFORD, Calif. — David Shaw walked into Stanford's team meeting this week and emphasized to his players not to pay attention to the BCS standings or the growing spotlight on the program.

Good luck, coach.

Stanford is leaving little doubt about its dominance, riding the nation's longest winning streak at 15 games and climbing to No. 4 in the AP poll. The Cardinal have won 10 in a row by at least 25 points — the first team to accomplish the feat in 75 years — and are heading to No. 20 Southern California on Saturday night playing the best they have all season.

"Getting giddy or getting upset about what happens in the BCS in the middle of October is a waste of time," Shaw said he told his players Tuesday. "It's a waste of effort. It's a waste of emotion. It doesn't matter until December."

Almost an entire year has gone by since Stanford has been truly tested.

The mark of 10 straight victories by at least 25 points eclipsed the 2002 Boise State team that rolled off nine in a row. And unlike the Broncos, all of Stanford's victories — with the exception of the season opener against San Jose State — have come against schools from BCS conferences.

"They are a good football team for a reason and why they do what they do and have been on a run they're on," said Washington coach Steve Sarkisian, whose previously No. 22 Huskies lost 65-21 at Stanford on Saturday. "They wear you out and they wear you down."

Stanford has stuck to a formula that has worked to near perfection.

For a team with the Heisman Trophy favorite and the NFL draft's presumed No. 1 pick, Andrew Luck, Stanford (7-0, 5-0 Pac-12) has been pummeling opponents with power. A big, bulky offensive line and perhaps the best collection of tight ends in the country has allowed the offense to overwhelm defenses in the running game, particularly once it gets a second-half lead.

Stanford set a school record with 446 yards rushing against Washington by simply running the same play over and over again on several drives.

"There's nothing more demoralizing than when a team can line up and run it down the field and there's nothing you can do about it," Colorado coach Jon Embree said of Stanford. "It messes with your psyche."

Not everything figures to come easy this year.

After all, the Cardinal needed a 30-yard field goal by Nate Whitaker on the final play to beat the Trojans (6-1, 3-1) a year ago at Stanford Stadium 37-35 in a back-and-forth game. Only twice since then has Stanford won by fewer than 25 points.

"This margin of victory thing, we could care less about it," Shaw said. "That doesn't do anything for us. We've got to find a way to end up with at least one more point than USC by the end of the game."

The Cardinal might not need to win big anymore, either.

All they have to do is win.

Texas Tech upset Oklahoma and Michigan State also knocked Wisconsin from the ranks of the unbeaten teams last week. So Stanford moved up to No. 6 in the BCS standings behind LSU, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Boise State and Clemson.

The Cardinal will likely leap Boise State and probably Clemson — if they can win out — in the BCS with a stronger second-half schedule and Luck providing extra attention. With the Southeastern Conference schools playing each other next week, Stanford might just be an Oklahoma State loss from controlling its BCS dreams.

Even if Shaw wants to keep his players thinking otherwise.

"We slack off and we don't need to worry about that if we don't win a game," said running back Stepfan Taylor. "Those losses are exactly a reminder of what could happen."

Follow Antonio Gonzalez at: www.twitter.com/agonzalezAP

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