Stanford pulled out a thrilling, triple overtime victory, 56-48, over Pac-12 rival Southern California in front of a sold out Coliseum to extend its nation’s best winning streak to 16 games.

Stanford forced a USC fumble into the end zone in the third overtime and recovered the ball to come from behind and win. The thriller earned the No. 4 Cardinal (8-0) selection as the winner of Week 9 in the United States Sports Academy’s 2011 College Football Game of the Year contest.

With three minutes left in the game, it appeared that Trojan cornerback Nickell Robey would be the hero, after picking off Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck and running in for a touchdown to put USC ahead 34-27.

But Luck, the leading Heisman Trophy candidate, calmly engineered a touchdown drive that resulted in
Stepfan Taylor running five yards for the tying score with 38 seconds left in regulation. Luck threw for 330 yards and three TDs to help keep his team’s national title hopes alive in a game that saw 88 points scored after halftime.

Both teams notched touchdowns in the first two overtimes. In the third overtime, Stanford’s Taylor ran in for a TD and Coby Fleener caught the 2-point conversion pass for a 56-48 Cardinal lead. USC’s Curtis McNeal then turned the ball over in the end zone to Stanford, which remained unbeaten.

A national panel of experts selects the Academy’s College Football Game of the Week. Each week’s winner is then considered for the College Football Game of the Year contest at the end of the regular season.

Daniel Moore, the American Sports Art Museum and Archives (ASAMA) 2005 Sport Artist of the Year, is commissioned by the Academy each year to create a painting honoring the selected College Football Game of the Year. The Academy donates the painting to the winning university, along with $5,000 for its general scholarship fund.