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Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Stanford Top 10 moments: No. 7

By Kevin Gemmell

With one game left to play we're taking a look back at some of the memorable moments/series of moments from Stanford's 2011 season. Some were individual plays, others were a series of plays or games as a whole that were significant to the season.

No. 7: PERFECT PICK

Setting the scene: It was a game where every possession counted -- triple overtime contests tend to be that way. So who knows what could have happened had linebacker A.J. Tarpley not stepped in and made a fantastic athletic play to intercept Matt Barkley at the USC 41-yard line early in the second quarter. The Cardinal didn't let the turnover go to waste, getting a 33-yard field goal from Eric Whitaker to extend their lead 10-3.

Why it's memorable: Interceptions were in short supply this season for the Cardinal -- and Tarpley's pick was just the fourth one of the year. It came against one of the best quarterbacks in college football in the biggest game of the season at the time. Plus, it was a heck of an individual effort. It turned out to be a pretty big day for Tarpley, who also recovered the fumble in the end zone to close out the third overtime and secure the Stanford win.

There was so much concern about the middle linebackers after Shayne Skov went down for the season with a knee injury against Arizona in Week 3. Jarek Lancaster and Tarpley filled his role splendidly. Both had their share of highlights, but this was Tarpley's finest. He showed great discipline, reaction and break to haul in the pass. Stanford's future at middle linebacker looks bright.