I don’t have much time, so I’ll be short on the intro here. I just want to point out that today it is absolutely perfect in the Seattle area. It’s supposed to be sunny and in the 60s, with a sky as blue as UCLA’s jerseys. Anyone remember last Saturday? That time when the the Huskies played Arizona, with a bunch of high level recruits in the stands and rain seemingly defying the laws of gravity to blow up under people’s ponchoes and raincoats. What a difference a week makes. Come on nature! Figure it out! One rain game a year is enough. I like football in the cold, but here’s to a night next week, with Oregon in town, that’s as clear and as crisp as this morning has been. Here’s the picks.
How big would a Huskies win at Stanford be? Consider this. If UW pulls off the upset, they will likely jump to about 10th in the nation, and would host college gameday next week for a matchup vs. #2 Oregon. That would be monumental. If UW could do the unthinkable and win their next 3, at Stanford, vs Oregon, at ASU, the Dawgs would likely be ranked 1 or 2 in the country. Now, the odds are slim, but how many teams in America can think about winning 3 games to jump into the top 3 in the nation? This really is a cool opportunity awaiting the Huskies.
As for tomorrow’s game, I think Washington goes down and knocks off Stanford…once or twice if they played 10 times. Stanford is really good on both sides of the ball, and they will want to avenge the loss they suffered last year in Seattle. The Huskies are good too, maybe even great, but this feels like UW is walking into a buzzsaw. The Cardinal are ranked #5 in the country, and the Huskies last road win at a top 5 team came at Wazzu in 2002. There is reason to think UW’s speed and up tempo offense might give Stanford trouble, but it will take a near flawless game to do the unthinkable. A win would put the Huskies among college football’s elite, but I just don’t see it happening.
Cardinal 35 – Huskies 17
I would love to pick the Huskies in this one, but I just can’t quite do it. I think they are quite capable of pulling out a victory. If it were in Seattle, I might even call for the upset. In Palo Alto, against a surging Stanford team, I just can’t quite do it. Stanford is big, physical and disciplined. Although they’re creative in their schemes, they don’t feel like they’re trying to pull anything over on you. They just play like they’re better and smarter than every other team. Their emerging passing attack is the missing link for them, although I’m still not convinced it’s as good as it’s looked the last couple of weeks. This is as tough as winnable games get. The fact that it’s eminently winnable is a testament to how much the Huskies have improved. I see three keys here (I’ve learned that these always come in threes): 1. The UW defense has to make the Stanford offense relatively one-dimensional. 2. The offensive line has to give Keith Price enough time to react and not feel nervous and constantly overwhelmed. 3. Price has to have a phenomenal day and the receivers have to get open and make at least one guy miss each play. They can do those things, but it will be a tall order. I see a close game, but I think the Huskies trail and ultimately lose for the first time this season.
Stanford 27 – UW 20
Leading up to each Husky game, my brain goes through several stages in analyzing the game. First, I assess how the Dawgs did the previous week. Then, I move on to the opponent, what they did the previous week, and their whole season. Next, I move on to the keys for the Huskies to win and their chances of winning. After that, I do the same for the opponent. These stages flip-flop until I come up with who I think will win. Then, it ends in me being incredibly nervous and excited come game time. These stages take different amount of time each week. Let me take you through this weeks stages in abbreviated form.
1. The Huskies played a great game last week. Danny Shelton may have had his best game as a Husky and the defense carried the Dawgs until the conditions allowed for the offense to get rolling (yes, the conditions were that bad).
2. Stanford had their most dominating win of the season, pulverizing WSU. They have come on strong in the last two weeks and they look to be worthy of the lofty ranking they have. Personally, I’d have them at number two in the country right now. I think their front 7 on defense is the best in the nation and their offense is getting stronger every week.
3. The Huskies could win this game. They have superior statistics to Stanford in almost every facet of the game and have probably played a tougher schedule so far. The key for the Huskies to win while on defense is making sure their corners (Peters and Ducre) don’t allow any big plays in pass. They need to be left out on an island in order for the safeties to help with the run and can’t be beat while being out there. Stopping the run is obviously huge and the front 7 need to be as stout as ever.
On offense it’s a little trickier, I think the Huskies need to stay true to who they are. Run the ball even when it’s not working, use your speed in the passing game and take a shot or two to keep the defense honest. Speed is where the Huskies have the edge on this side of the ball and they need to find ways to take advantage of that.
4. Stanford, frankly, has a great chance of winning this game. They just have more experience in this type of game and are incredibly physical.
So, all in all, I think I will go with Stanford. To win, the Huskies need to play their best road game in… a decade? Two decades? They are more than capable of that but I don’t know if they will. Intensity and readiness shouldn’t be a problem. I just think Stanford has too much going for them this week. I hope I’m wrong and the Huskies get their biggest win since 2000. Go Dawgs!
Stanford 28 – UW 24
Washington comes into this week starting the “October Gauntlet” of Stanford, Oregon and ASU three weeks in a row. Thankfully, UW is 4-0, so their margin of error is not razor thin, but it’s close. Many fans would take a 1-2 record with a win over Oregon. I say 2-1 is acceptable. The one loss? Unfortunately, it will come Saturday night on The Farm. I think Stanford is a legit national title contender, and I think they show it vs UW. I don’t think this game is as much about how good or bad UW plays, but a show case for how good Stanford is. The Cardinal don’t ever beat themselves, play tight, tough defense, and with Hogan at QB are able to throw the ball down field. In order for UW to win, the Huskies will need to play flawless and hope Stanford is sloppy. Any scenario with UW turning the ball over or committing penalties will result in a blow out. I do think UW will play well, I think Sankey will get his yards, but I don’t see UW overcoming Stanford’s discipline and skill. The game will be close and well played, but the Cardinal win.
Stanford 30 – UW 20