HI MY NAME IS GABEY AND I’M STRESSED OUT ABOUT EVERY GAME UNTIL 2019 (except Oregon State lol CherFromCluelessAsIf.gif). Furthermore, there’s all sortsa bad memories from Stanford’s five thousand foot tall pass-catching targets last year.
In other words: 49-0 babay and you _can’t_ convince me to write an actual prediction.
(Although, last time I made a 49-0 prediction due to being too worried about a game was Stanford in 2016 so...)
Editor’s note: Gabey was so scarred by last year’s Stanford game that she picked K.J Costello and J.J Arcega-Whiteside with her first two picks in the UWDP Pac-12 fantasy draft this year over players like Justin Herbert and Myles Gaskin. While we all made fun of her for it, the moves actually turned out all right. So who knows.
If the 2018 college football season has felt upside down to Husky fans, then this week is going to fit right into the narrative. At the start of the season, this showdown with Stanford looked like the game most likely to determine the Pac-12 North. Instead, two teams scuffling off of disappointing losses are somewhat desperate to stabilize themselves to rescue their seasons.
Maybe even weirder is the fact that Stanford is really good at exactly one thing: passing the football. A team known for stout defense and a bully-ball ground game has done none of the above this season. KJ Costello has created an efficient, reliable pass offense by completing a high number of passes to three giants- JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Trent Irwin, and Kaden Smith. Bryce Love’s season stats look suspiciously like his disappointing UW doppleganger, Myles Gaskin.
In the end, I expect home field advantage to matter in this one. The UW offensive line has generally played better in front of a friendly crowd and it will need to show up for the Husky offense to recover from its Cal Bear hibernation. As long as Browning avoids boneheaded mistakes, the secondary limits big plays, and special teams keeps the Dawgs out of deep holes, this game is winnable.
Washington- 27, Stanford- 21
I don’t know what is more surprising: that I thought the Huskies would score 30 points at Cal last week, or that the defense only allowed 6 points and the Huskies still lost. But it happened, and now we’re facing what is possibly Chris Petersen’s first “circle the wagons” game at Washington. I am honestly not sure what to expect because Stanford is similarly desperate, having lost 3 of their past 4.
What we know is that Washington’s offense is great at reaching the red zone but awful once they get there. They can move the ball semi-regularly with some explosive passes but are not getting much explosion in the run game. Stanford’s defense is not very good this year, especially along the defensive line, so the hope is Washington’s offensive line can finally start pushing someone around and really getting the run game going. If Myles Gaskin is back, that would be huge. Either way we’ll see plenty of Sean McGrew and Salvon Ahmed. Even better would be Hunter Bryant back, but I don’t think we see him.
The match up Washington simply has to win is against Stanford’s pass game. If Stanford is moving the ball and scoring through the air, I don’t think Washington’s offense has enough firepower or play makers to punch back consistently. Being a gunslinger, KJ Costello can be prone to some mistakes. The Washington defense will have to keep up the small improvements they’ve made in the pass rush and get in face, or else it’ll be a long night. Stanford is solid in pass protection despite their run blocking being a major issue.
Special teams has been a mess too, and that can tip the scales in a close game. And this is going to be a close one.
Washington- 20, Stanford- 24
This seemed to be the prevailing sentiment among much of the fanbase after Washington’s disastrous trip to Berkeley last Saturday:
But Stanford had already beaten UW fans to the punch. While the Huskies have lost 2 out of 3 (both on the road), the Cardinal have lost 3 out of 4 with two of those losses coming at home. Bryce Love came into the season expecting to contend for a Heisman but injuries have greatly slowed his season. Love didn’t play in their loss to Utah and in the other 3 games he has had less than 20 total touches in all of them. Last season Bryce was banged up entering the Husky game but still destroyed us for 178 yards on 31 total touches. It seems unlikely he’ll be able to put forth a similar effort this year but that would kind of be in fitting with the way UW’s season is going.
The biggest issue last year was that 6’3 J.J Arcega-Whiteside dominated Washington on jump balls on 3rd and long and kept the Husky defense from getting off the field. JJAW has played his way into a potential 1st round NFL draft pick but he also went against the 5’8 Myles Bryant for most of the night who was forced to play outside due to injuries for Washington at the corner spot. One of the more interesting chess matches of the game will be how the Huskies handle Bryant against the Ent-like Stanford receiving corps as there isn’t a shifty slot guy who Myles normally excels against (all 5 of Stanford’s leading receivers are 6’2 or taller).
Whether the Huskies have success on the offensive end may come down to who is healthy and available to play. The availability of Myles Gaskin, Jared Hilbers, Hunter Bryant, and Trey Adams are all unknown as of right now. I think the odds of playing are in that order but if Gaskin and Hilbers are both back at something close to 100% then I expect the Washington offense to look much more like their normal selves. Stanford is 56th in defensive S&P+ which is almost exactly even with the Colorado Buffaloes. If Chico had just fumbled out at the 1 and we’d kicked a field goal instead of fumbling out the end zone then the Huskies would’ve hit the 30 point plateau.
The last time that Washington lost a game in Husky Stadium was 2016 against Sam Darnold and USC. This Husky team may be much worse than their 2016 version but Stanford is also much much worse than that USC squad. Until the Huskies actually drop a game at home I’m going to keep picking them to win.
Washington- 26, Stanford 23
I’m not super comfortable with where I am at as I break down the factors that will drive this prediction. I keep having to ask myself if I’m being fair in assessing these factors or am I applying uneven bias as a result of how severely disappointed I was with UW last weekend. It’s an ongoing battle. The irony is that I’ve already accepted that the Cal game is very much an aberration, but I’m not sure that I can still eliminate how it is coloring my analysis. But I’ll try.
On the plus side, I like that UW is playing at home and that they have a clear mission to accomplish. It isn’t exactly a stretch to say that the seniors on this class would face a final season in absolute ruins should they lose this weekend. I also realize that this Stanford team isn’t playing very well. Their pass defense is a mess, they’ve no pass rush and the offensive line isn’t helping out a dinged up Bryce Love.
However, the problem for me is that the Huskies are in equal disarray. No matter what I think of their issues, I’m not sure that UW can do anything to keep Stanford off of the scoreboard. UW’s defense, as good as it has been, has still allowed 25 red zone trips by opponents ... that’s pretty good but not great. Stanford, I think, is going to score points against against UW and a couple of those will be red zone touchdowns taking advantage of their big receivers and a UW defense that doesn’t pressure the QB.
Can UW answer? I don’t see any reason to think that, even if you adjust for the home field advantage. I don’t think we will be as lethargic as the weekend prior. But I also don’t see any explosive plays or extra possessions coming UW’s way. A few efficient but not explosive drives resulting in 24 points kind of feels like a best case scenario. And that is probably not enough to keep Chris Petersen’s worst case scenario from happening in the 2018 season.
Washington- 24, Stanford- 27
In some ways, Washington and Stanford are something of mirror images of each other. Both have experienced high levels of success in recent years with what their fan bases regard as long-term solutions at head coach, and there’s no reason to think that either David Shaw or Chris Petersen are anywhere remotely near hot seat territory.
And yet, it’s equally clear that both teams have disappointed massively in 2018 relative to preseason expectations. Despite a fourth-year starting quarterback, the program’s all-time leading rusher and a defense as nasty as any outside of Tuscaloosa or Baton Rouge, the Dawgs owned three losses before Halloween and are clearly out of the College Football Playoff discussion, and have zero margin for error if they hope to win the Pac-12 and earn a Rose Bowl berth. The Cardinal are similarly situated: After starting with a 4–0 record and rising as high as No. 7 in the AP poll, Stanford has lost three of their last four, fallen out of the rankings and now must conduct three of their last four conference games on the road.
In another similarity to Washington, Stanford’s struggles this year have come in the form of a disappointing running game. Much of that is due to 2017 Heisman Trophy finalist Bryce Love’s continued struggle to stay healthy (Love carried the ball just 17 times for 92 yards and zero touchdowns in the entire month of October), as well as the decline of Stanford’s offensive line from elite in years past to merely good in 2018.
Where the Cardinal might give the Huskies fits is — stop me if you’ve heard this before — the red zone. Washington has struggled all season to put the ball into the end zone when they’re within striking distance of scoring, and their 51.2 red zone touchdown percentage (22 scores on 43 attempts) ranks dead last in the Pac-12. Meanwhile, the Cardinal are considerably better than the average Pac-12 program in limiting the damage their opponents inflict; Stanford’s red zone defense has allowed just 14 touchdowns on 30 attempts (46.7 percent), No. 2 in the conference and No. 12 nationally.
I’m picking the Dawgs to win in ugly low-scoring game, mostly because of how good Petersen has been at home in the last several years. (Washington is 17–1 when playing at Husky Stadium since 2016.) But make no mistake, this year’s Huskies squad is entirely capable of losing this game, especially if they get consistently stuffed inside the Cardinal 20-yard line. Whatever the outcome, rest assured that the fan base of whichever team loses this game will walk away from Husky Stadium feeling that their program’s long-term prospects are a bit dimmer than they’d assumed just a few hours earlier.
Washington 17, Stanford 10
Final Tally (Excluding Gabey. Sorry Gabey. Give a real prediction to get included.)
Against the Spread (UW -10.5)
Washington- 0, Stanford- 5
Washington- 3, Stanford- 2
Washington- 22.8, Stanford- 21