One week after we greeted the Oregon game with great optimism, things have taken a turn - Washington lost again to the Ducks and in the process may have lost QB Jake Browning to injury for a week or more, and now they head down south to take on Stanford, a team that has gotten better every week and looks like they could be the class of the conference along with Utah. So what are the chances Washington can shock everyone and pull out the win? Read on...
Reports of Stanford's demise as a national power after a down year in 2014 appear to be premature - their offensive line has matured into a top unit once again, Kevin Hogan is playing like a savvy vet that he is, Christian McCaffrey has built on the flashes he showed last year to become one of the top offensive players in the country, and the Cardinal are rolling on offense.
On defense things aren't quite as rosy - they are painfully thin along their DL, and while they are certainly not a bad defense, they have taken a step or two back from being the elite unit they were as recently as last year. So we have what appears to be strength on strength - Stanford's offense vs. Washington's defense - and weakness on weakness - Stanford's defense vs. Washington's offense. Washington's special teams have been good, but so have Stanford's.
Even before you take into consideration the injury situation at QB for Washington, you'd have to concede our offense has played worse than Stanford's defense, and that to me is the tipping point. I think our defense can slow down the Cardinal, but I'm just not that confident that our offense can do enough to ensure the win. Getting a consistently effective run game going would be huge, but Stanford's big, physical linebackers make that a tough task. Short of a bevy of turnovers going our way, I'm afraid this one is going to end in a loss: Stanford 27, Washington 17
Ugh. I hate that I have become the ultimate pessimist and have only predicted the Huskies to win twice this year, but with what we know at the moment, I think this will be Washington's toughest game of the year.
The Husky defense will be tough enough to slow Stanford's rejuvenated offense for a while, but their tragically woeful offense will struggle on the road against a still stout Cardinal defense and allow Stanford's big nasty offensive line to do work in the second half. Christian McCaffrey will get loose a couple of times and Stanford will pull away late as Washington struggles to put points on the board. Stanford 38 Washington 13
Without watching Stanford, if you knew the sons of Ed McCaffrey and Barry Sanders were both running backs on the same team, wouldn't you assume that the Sanders kid would be better? But, its Christian McCaffrey that's been the standout RB for the trees. Look for him to get loose on a Husky defense that hasn't been able to handle the run the last two games. If Jake Browning doesn't play, the Huskies will need to rely on its run game which isn't a bad thing. However, I just don't see them being able to keep up with Stanford. Stanford 38 UW 17
The Huskies are banged up, and playing a Stanford team that is just rolling. If we had any offense at all, we'd have a chance. As it stands, the UW offense simply goes 3 and out, or turns it over drive after drive. That just won't cut it against the Cardinal who are ranked up there with UW in just about every defensive category. I'll be at the game screaming my lungs out praying for a miracle, but it probably won't happen. Our defense is too good for this to be a blowout, but I can't see a UW victory here. Stanford wins, 24-13.
You know, sometimes you are the new hot thing happening and sometimes you are wave crashing into the shore.
After the Dawgs muscled up and shut down the USC Trojans, there was much optimism around Huskyville. We became the hot new thing, at least in our own doggy minds. A little over a week later, the Oregon Ducks came crashing down on our photo shoot with their 12th straight victory. Since then, a sense of dread has overtaken Montlake as most Husky fans have a hard time believing that a passing game that failed to find its rhythm against one of the worst pass defenses in the country in Oregon will be able to do much else with any other team left on its schedule.
There may well be some truth to that.
The good news is that we may not need a strong passing attack to beat this Stanford team. Defensively, the Cardinal are a little different than what you are used to seeing. They are thin and banged up on the defensive line and not as dominating (though still good) at the linebacking level as they have been. This is a team that UW may well be able run against and, if they can keep their offense on the field, could wear down as the game goes on. Do I think it is likely? No. But I really hope that Jonathan Smith gets extra stubborn about the run and keeps going back to it, even if it becomes predictable.
When Stanford has the ball, they will be looking to ram that stout offensive line against our young front seven like a battering ram repeatedly crashing on the front gates of the Washington castle. It will be a classic "good on good" matchup, except the Huskies are legitmately eight players deep on that line of scrimmage and seven players deep in the linebacking corps.
There is little doubt to me that the Huskies offense will fail to score more than 24 points in Palo Alto. The real question is whether or not Stanford has the patience to keep with the run if the Huskies are able to keep the per rush average below 3.5 yards. Against, Northwestern, the Cardinal averaged just 3.1 yards per carry and ended up passing the ball 35 times to just 27 rushes on the night. The end result was just 240 total yards and 6 points scored. In every other game this season, Stanford has established the run and has averaged about 46 attempts per game.
If the Huskies can truly commit to stopping the run and take their chances in the passing game, they may have a chance at getting a Northwestern-like result. We know that UW has the depth and personnel to challenge Stanford in its rushing attack, but will the coaching staff show the fortitude to truly stopping the run even if it exposes their secondary? That is the key question on the table.
I think the Huskies will, in fact, hold the Cardinal to fewer than 3.5 yards per carry and really challenge the discipline of their offense to stay with the run. But, unlike with Northwestern, I think David Shaw and his staff will stick with it and be rewarded with a ball control advantage and fewer opportunities for turnovers to happen. They'll pull this one out in what will feel like a game that they always controlled, even if UW has a chance to win it with a last possession at the end. UW 9, Stanford 13