MIAMI — Andrew Luck threw for 287 yards and four touchdowns, leading fifth-ranked Stanford past No. 12 Virginia Tech 40-12 in the Orange Bowl on Monday night.
Stanford (12-1) earned its first bowl win in 14 years and likely will end the season ranked in the top 5 for the first time since the unbeaten 1940 team finished No. 2. The Cardinal's success comes four years after it went 1-11 and hired coach Jim Harbaugh.
The game likely was the last at Stanford for Luck and Harbaugh. Luck, a sophomore, is projected as the likely first pick in the NFL draft if he turns pro this year. Harbaugh is expected to be courted by NFL teams and alma mater Michigan, if it fires Rich Rodriguez, after leading the Cardinal to a school-record win total.
Virginia Tech (11-3), in a bowl game for the 18th consecutive year, is 1-27 against top-5 teams.
Stanford threw a completion for a bizarre safety and blew two extra points but had six plays gaining more than 30 yards. The Cardinal outscored Tech 27-0 in the second half.
"I'm happy for the Stanford community," said Luck, who was 18-of-23 and named game MVP. "We came out in the second half and established a rhythm. I was extremely comfortable."
His thoughts on leaving early for the NFL? "I'll enjoy this, then sit down with my parents."
"I just want to say thanks to all the players and coaches … everybody involved with Stanford football," said Harbaugh, who steered reporters away from him to talk to players. "We could not have done it without you. All the credit goes to these players. It's all about them."
Coby Fleener caught scoring passes of 41, 58 and 38 yards from Luck, all in the final 21 minutes. Zach Ertz had a 25-yard TD reception, Jeremy Stewart scored on a 60-yard run and Stepfan Taylor added a 56-yard run. Fullback/linebacker Owen Marecic scored on a 1-yard run and had a sack.
Stanford began to pull away by going the length of the field in 29 seconds in the third quarter. After Delano Howell made an interception at the 3 to snuff a Tech threat, Taylor got loose and reached Hokies territory. On the next play, Luck threw deep to Fleener for a 26-12 lead.
Luck also threw for a safety that cut Stanford's lead to 7-2. His pass was batted backward by Antoine Hopkins to 303-pound offensive tackle Derek Hal in the end zone.
Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor threw for 222 yards but was held to 22 yards rushing.
"They're really good, and we helped them be good," Hokies coach Frank Beamer said.