We have fifth ranked Stanford facing off against scrappy number twenty-two Washington in sold out Stanford Stadium on Saturday.
It seems like it has been almost forever since Washington has played in a game that actually meant something in regards to the national landscape this late in the season. This Saturday's match-up against undefeated Stanford just happens to be that type of game.
Did I actually say sell out and Stanford in the same sentence? The UW ticket office sold out of its 8,000 seat allocation so there will be plenty of purple and gold in the stands. Sometimes that can be a factor in a Bay Area game. It isn't unusual for Husky fans to make more noise than Stanford fans in their own stadium.
Do we dare dream of what it would mean if the Huskies pulled off the upset on Saturday, or do we take Sark's advice to play it like mountain climbers, and take it one step/block/tackle at a time on Saturday? Like I have been saying all week - beating Stanford is a very tall order.
That being said I like the Huskies chances for more than a few reasons with the biggest factor being the play of Keith Price and the maturation of everyone else on the offensive side of the ball. Guys are stepping up, getting it done, and improving every week. The Huskies expect to win and they are really going to challenge Stanford this week.
The Cardinal tend to keep it close at the half and blow out their worn out opponents in the second half. One way for Washington to counter that would be to jump out to an early lead of their own and make Stanford chase them. Stanford hasn't given up a single point in the first quarter this season. So hanging hanging a couple of early touchdowns on them will be a key to victory.
Washington's offense is more than capable of scoring on Stanford (or anyone). I don't see a repeat of last years offensive debacle. The Huskies have way too many weapons at their disposal this year to let that happen. One of the biggest weapons just may be another year of experience for a young team.
Las Vegas isn't buying into the upset theory. In fact they don't even think the game will be close. As I write this on Thursday morning the Cardinal are still a twenty point favorite which just blows my mind. My gut tells me this is going to be a close game that could go either way.
To me the big question is whether the Washington defense can slow down the Stanford offense enough to keep them under thirty points. If they can do that I think Washington has a pretty good chance of pulling off an upset. That would mean forcing turnovers, limiting the running game, and partially corralling Andrew Luck.
Washington's defense has improved over the last three games but they would have to perform at a level we haven't seen yet this season for the Huskies to get the "W". Ta'amu, Tokolahi, Thompon, and Shirley need to have the games of their lives against an excellent Tree offensive line to make this happen.
This game features two of the best quarterbacks in the country but the team that does the best job of stopping the run on defense and running the ball on offense will win the game. Having a plus turnover ratio wouldn't be a bad thing either.
I am predicting a close high scoring game that will go down to the wire...but I am not going to predict that the UW defense will hold the Tree to under thirty points. Stanford has a better defense than Washington. They also have a physical offense that can wear down the best of teams as the game goes on. I think that will be the difference in a tight game.
Stanford 41 Washington 35