First of all, it feels bizarre to see UW as a two-TD favorite in a road stadium that has been a major problem for the last decade. The big spread is justified, though, because this vintage of the Cardinal bears almost no resemblance to the Rose Bowl teams of years past. On the offensive side of the ball, Stanford has been without K.J. Costello and Walker Little. The result has been the same sort of smash-mouth play-calling without the elite running backs or the push up front. The passing offense has been acceptable and a solid performance against Davis Mills was the main reason Stanford was able to win in Corvallis last week. Of course, that mix plays right into UW’s hands. Elijah Molden and Trent McDuffie are emerging as stars in the secondary. Keith Taylor has shown the ability to limit bigger receivers and tight ends like Stanford likes to use. Stanford isn’t in a position like USC where they prefer to pass but have a running attack to fall back on- Stanford has consistently tried to run the ball and failed to average even four yards per carry. The blocking just hasn’t been there.
Stanford has been known as a defensive stalwart, and that’s another area where the 2019 team defies history. After a solid performance against Northwestern to open the year, Stanford has given up about 9-12 yards per pass attempt in each of the last four games without generating a single interception (that’s very bad!). Jacob Eason should have a very big game. I would be surprised if he finished with fewer than 250 passing yards and it could go significantly higher. The Stanford run defense has been better than the pass defense, but is still average or slightly worse. I also want to note how nice it is to make UW picks this year without constantly adding the caveat that our special teams could undermine all the good work we’ve done elsewhere.
The line gives me some heartburn. UW could win comfortably and Stanford could still get within 16.5. As for the result itself, I’m comfortable that UW will take care of business.
Washington- 31, Stanford- 14
My thought is that the Huskies will attack Stanford’s much maligned secondary in the first half. Jacob Eason will connect with some combo of Fuller/Bacellia/Bryant multiple times on a couple of deep balls and one long run after the catch to take an early and commanding lead. Stanford will be starting their back up QB, Davis Mills, who actually had a pretty dang good game last weekend on the road in Corvallis. Yes, it was against Oregon State, but it was still a good showing for a new(ish) QB on the road. That said, he was less effective against USC and UCF’s quality athletes, and the Huskies’ secondary is in the same league or better (probably better).
I’m envisioning a scenario in which Eason carves up the Stanford secondary, before the Huskies tap the brakes and run the ball frequently and efficiently in the second half. As this happens, Stanford will be able to piece together a couple of drives and put some points on the board, right before the Huskies put the nail in the coffin with a late score.
Washington- 35, Stanford- 13
Washington is as a high 16.5 point favorite against a Stanford team that might be the 9th or 10th best team in the conference. Stanford is really struggling to the run ball on offense, and to stop anyone on defense, especially through the air. Last week against Oregon State they gave up 501 yards total, including 337 passing to Jake Luton. If Oregon State could finish a drive, they likely would have won.
Washington defensively just needs to do what they are good at - limiting explosive plays and forcing opponents into long drives with lots of short gains. Michael Wilson could do some damage outside, and Colby Parkinson is a classic mismatch nightmare who could make things interesting. The Huskies have been not as great vs. the run than the pass, but shouldn’t have too much trouble containing a ground attack that only gets 112 yards per game. Though, Kyler Manu and Brandon Wellington will need to be in position and make tackles when Stanford inevitably goes power run in short yardage situations. I imagine might try to target some of the young guys in the secondary, and they will need to be ready as well.
Offensively, much to the chagrin of Husky fans, the Dawgs should come out throwing and being aggressive. Stanford has been Florida St. levels of bad against the pass this year and Hunter Bryant should have a huge game. Salvon Ahmed I expect will be outrunning the Stanford defense more than once. However, there is just something that still isn’t quite clicking offensively for the Huskies. Perhaps Stanford’s D is the cure for the common offense, and maybe this is the game where Jacob Eason finally lights up a conference foe. I think we get close to offensive fireworks, but some red zone woes continue.
Washington- 30, Stanford- 14
When I put together the prediction poll on the day before the season opener, the game on the schedule which fans thought was most likely an L was this one. A little over a month later and opinions have shifted greatly.
Part of that is this isn’t the same Stanford team that we were expecting to see. Starting QB K.J Costello who was viewed as a sleeper 1st round pick coming into the year will miss another game due to injury. LT Walter Little was a lock of a top-ten pick and a former 5-star who is now gone for the season. Instead of 3 seniors in the two deep on the left side of the offseason line there are only true freshmen. Those injuries have led to an abysmal offense which is 110th in yards per play, 106th in explosiveness, and 121st in giving up havoc plays (turnovers, tackles for loss, and pass breakups). Washington’s defense isn’t quite as dominant as past versions but it’s hard to envision Stanford cracking 20 points even at home.
But as we saw against another team from the Bay Area in a stadium with fewer than 15,000 people it, 20 points can get the job done if the Huskies aren’t able to consistently convert in the red zone. This Stanford defense still has some dudes, led by corner Paulson Adebo. But the results have not been there outside of doing a decent job holding Justin Herbert in check a few weeks ago. The Tree are 115th in yards per play, 119th in yards per pass attempt, and 115th in explosiveness. If there’s one strength to this defense it’s in red zone TD%. Again, the only way they keep this close is if the Huskies have to settle for field goals 3+ times when they get in close.
As analytically inclined as I am, I tend to pick based off of gut feeling more than I probably should. And perhaps because of the poor track record playing on The Farm in recent years (no wins since 2007) I might be a little gun shy in this one. But it’s pretty easy to see why the betting line has moved substantially in Washington’s favor to this point. I think this ends up being comfortable but not quite a blowout.
Washington- 26, Stanford- 17
THE FINAL TALLY
Straight Up: Washington- 4, Stanford- 0
Against the Spread (UW -16.5): Washington- 2, Stanford- 2
Average Score: Washington- 30.5, Stanford- 14.5