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UCLA Faces Eager Stanford Team Coming Off Bye Weekend

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STANFORD (AP) – Andrew Luck spent the bye weekend stuck on his couch watching so much football that he had to force himself to get outside at one point, if nothing else just to take a break.

There won’t be many of those for a while.

With fall classes beginning this week and sixth-ranked Stanford opening its Pac-12 home slate Saturday night against UCLA, the strong-armed quarterback and Heisman Trophy hopeful will be plenty busy the rest of the season. Not just on the football field, either.

The architecture major said he’s taking three classes this quarter: architecture since 1900, urban sustainability and archaic Greek art history. He also is planning to increase his practice regimen to make sure the Cardinal (3-0) stay perfect.

“I’m sort of sick watching football, to be honest,” said Luck, whose beard reformed over the break. “I was glued to the couch for 10 hours.”

UCLA figures to give him some exercise this week.

Luck passed for just 151 yards and two scores against the Bruins (2-2) last season in Stanford’s first win at the Rose Bowl since 1996, although the low productivity — by his standards, anyway — didn’t stop the Cardinal from trouncing their neighbors to the south 35-0.

Luck considers his start this season solid but not great, throwing for eight touchdowns and one interception — which came on a tipped ball at Duke. He studied film late last week and fine-tuned his fundamentals on the field with the other quarterbacks before allowing himself to be a little lazy over the weekend.

Even that wasn’t all fun.

Luck admits he has a hard time watching football without analyzing games, but he certainly tries. So he left his place Saturday night to attend a Stanford women’s soccer game while the West Virginia-LSU game was still going — even though his father, Oliver, is the athletic director at West Virginia — to take advantage of the time off.

“I love not having school,” Luck said, before somebody reminded him he could have been the NFL draft’s No. 1 pick already and never had to take a class again. “I guess that’s true. Jokes on me, right?”

Not exactly.

The Cardinal will be heavily favored for the next four games — UCLA, Colorado, at Washington State and back home against Washington — before traveling to Southern California on Oct. 29. The only other major test will be the biggest, hosting Oregon at Stanford Stadium on Nov. 12, and the Cardinal also have a date with struggling Notre Dame.

Stanford coach David Shaw tried to take some time away, too, knowing that the bye week — although it’s early — will be one of the few opportunities until December to relax. He cooked breakfast for his three children — cream of wheat and bacon — on Saturday and attended his daughter’s soccer game, then traveled to a Bay Area high school game for recruiting, took his wife to dinner and ended the night with a local television show. So, no work, right?

“I was watching film on my iPad while in transit,” he said.

Shaw has reason to stay busy.

The biggest concern for the new coach is replacing inside linebacker and leading tackler Shayne Skov, who suffered a season-ending left knee injury in a 37-10 victory over Arizona before the break. He’d also like to improve the red zone offense, which has scored touchdowns on 12 of 16 attempts and made all four field goals, an output that’s efficient by almost any other program’s standards.

Just not one with Luck.

Shaw has been pleased with his quarterback’s play, and Luck believes he’s a far better player than the one who led Stanford to a 12-1 record and an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech last season. Shaw likes how Luck is taking less chances, not forcing plays, scrambling well, helping new receivers and leading the offense and the team. He just can’t help but want more from such a talent.

“He’ll be the first to tell you he hasn’t played a great game yet,” Shaw said. “He’s played well.”

That’s a scary thought for the rest of the Pac-12

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