As Stanford and Washington heading into their Pac-12 showcase this week, in Thursday night’s ESPN college football prime time game, you’d be hard pressed to say you expected these clubs to be where they are. Stanford is suddenly the number 8 team in the country, sitting at 3-0 after knocking out national champion hopefuls USC. Washington, for its part, is at least 2-1 thus far on the season. So will the Cardinal keep cruising in this weeknight game?
Stanford was supposed to be a decent opponent for the USC Trojans, but one they would just roll right on past on their way to bigger and better things. A Heisman Trophy for Matt Barkley, and a BCS National Championship, namely. Now both of those will be very difficult to pull off. Stanford pulled out a 21-14 upset at home on the strength of some big play making, and a deep, tough team all over the field, on both sides of the ball.
On offense, Josh Nunes is taking advantage of his chance to start after sitting behind Andrew Luck. He’s doing pretty decently back there, throwing for 615 yards in three games, and six touchdowns against three interceptions, although the completion percentage of 53% leaves something to be desired. Nevertheless, he has led this team to a huge upset victory over USC. He’s been getting a lot of help from running back Stepfan Taylor, who has 338 yards and a 5.0 yards per carry average thus far, with a total of four touchdowns.
The defense is where the team is making its bones though, ranking 20th in the country in yards surrendered, but more tellingly as was demonstrated against USC, 7th in the country in passing yards allowed.
Washington meanwhile has sandwiched two wins against San Diego State and Portland State around a terrible blowout loss on the road at LSU. They lost 41-3 in that match-up, but at least looked good in dispatching Portland State last weekend, 52-13. Here, they’ll be playing with home field advantage, and perhaps will get a chance to catch Stanford sleeping, or in a big game hangover, after the USC upset win.
According to the official numbers, Stanford is a 7 point road favorite in the match. They’ve won the last four meetings in a row, and six of the last seven overall. The last three games they have won by 20 or more points, including a 41-0 drubbing of Washington, on the road, two seasons ago.
Stanford isn’t going to get caught sleeping, because that’s not the way their coach has his team wired. They’ll be coming out fired up and ready once again. Take Stanford to win the game and cover the spread with ease, continuing their recent stretch of dominance over the Huskies for at least another year. Suddenly, their October 13 game against Notre Dame is looming as a massive match-up for both squads, and a game that football fans across the country will want to tune into.