Stanford, CA – The post-Andrew Luck era got off to an ominous start on Friday.
With their former two-time Heisman Trophy runner-up now taking snaps in the NFL, the No. 21 Stanford Cardinal needed a fourth-quarter field goal from Jordan Williamson to edge the San Jose State Spartans, 20-17, in Friday's season-opener.
Senior Stepfan Taylor rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries for the Cardinal (1-0), who went 11-2 last season and lost to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl with Luck at the helm.
Luck, of course, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Indianapolis Colts in April.
Josh Nunes, faced with the unenviable task of replacing Luck, completed 16- of-26 passes for 125 yards and threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Drew Terrell in the win.
"(Josh) played extremely well and was very poised under pressure," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "San Jose State gave a few looks we had not seen and Josh handled it all very, very well. He showed great leadership for our team out there and we look forward to having him do so throughout the season."
David Fales threw for 216 yards with a touchdown and an interception for the Spartans (0-1), who went 5-7 a year ago.
Blake Jurich ran for 32 yards and a touchdown in the loss and Noel Grigsby caught seven passes for 92 yards and a score.
Stanford, which set a school record with 561 points last season, held a 17-3 halftime lead on Friday before the offense stalled.
The Spartans took advantage and scored 14 straight points to tie the game.
They opened the quarter with a 78-yard drive, which was capped by Jurich's three-yard touchdown run and Fales hit Grigsby for a 21-yard scoring strike later in the quarter.
San Jose State got the ball back again after Stanford's second punt of the quarter, but De'Leon Eskridge fumbled it away at his own 38-yard-line.
Usua Amanam recovered the loose ball and Stanford capitalized with a short 35- yard drive, which Williamson capped with a go-ahead 20-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
Earlier, Taylor opened the scoring with a short touchdown plunge and Terrell's scoring grab had the Cardinal up 14-0.
Austin Lopez got the Spartans on the board with a 38-yard field goal in the second quarter before Williamson responded with a 46 yarder.
"No way, shape or form do we take a moral victory whatsoever," said Spartans coach Bob Smith. "Those kids are really, really hurting in there and that's because they laid it on the line and we've gotten better."
Luck was 31-8 as a three-year starter with Stanford ... San Jose State opened its season against a ranked opponent for the fourth straight year ... The Cardinal lead the all-time series, 51-14-1. San Jose State has not won at Stanford Stadium in the last nine tries.