Andrew Berg (7-0 SU, 2-4-1 ATS)
Last week, I picked the Dawgs to win but fail to cover. So I nailed it, right? Not even close. The offensive dud and defensive strength looked nothing like what I expected. Bill Connely pointed out in his weekly SP+ update that the Dawgs have had a lower average yards per play in four consecutive games. It’s understandable to come down from the heights of the Cal game on the road against Arizona, and Oregon posed a difficult test, but for ASU to be the low-point in that sequence just looks wrong.
I have compared the Husky offense several times this year to a complex machine. Grubb dissects the defensive tendencies and designs plays and sequences to beat them. The receivers have the athleticism and technique to execute those plans and get themselves space. The offensive line pass protects so well that the receivers have time to put those plans into motion. And Michael Penix excels mentally and physically such that he almost never misses the opportunities that Grubb and the receivers create. The recent problem has been that a few of the cogs in that machine are in the repair shop or not working to their full ability. Jalen McMillan and Germie Bernard missed last week and the quick-hitting options they usually present were missing. The offensive line has taken various hits in the middle, which allowed ASU to get consistent pressure through that route. Two weeks in a row, Penix has looked physically less than 100%. We were told it was cramps and an unrelated illness. Maybe that’s true, but Occam’s razor indicates that it’s more likely the two underperformances had some common thread.
Yes, Stanford is probably the worst team in this sequence. They have some playmakers- Benjamin Yurosek and Casey Filkins stand out, especially- but not enough depth to compete with top teams for 60 minutes. But when we talk about a four-TD spread, the only way the Huskies can make up that difference is with the offensive machine hitting on all cylinders. Until we get closer to that capacity, I’m going to play it safe.
Washington- 34, Stanford- 17
Mark Schafer (7-0 SU, 4-2-1 ATS)
It is now Stanford week where the Dawgs go down to the Farm to face the struggling Cardinal. After the abysmal offensive showing last week OC Ryan Grubb was clearly frustrated with his unit and made no excuses for their poor play, and said in his presser that they needed to get their swagger back, and fast. I think this game is a perfect time for them to do that. Stanford’s defense is struggling, and their offensive line is having a tough time keeping the QB upright. Sounds like the perfect time for a trap game, right?
Yes it is, but if there’s one thing that encourages me about this staff, it’s that they know when and where they’ve messed up, and they’re taking steps to correct that. It also helps that both Julius Buelow and Jalen McMillan may be back, so we will see if that actually pans out. I think the offense will come out firing, try to get going and put them away early, getting the “Eye of the Tiger” back in the process. The defense will pick off Ashton Daniels a couple times, and get after him to get him off schedule, and the Dawgs will win easily, though not easily enough to cover!
Washington- 45, Stanford- 24
Max Vrooman (6-1 SU, 3-3-1 ATS)
The result of this game is likely to be more about Washington than it is about Stanford. The Huskies continue to be beat up with key contributors such as WRs Jalen McMillan and Germie Bernard, OL Julius Buelow, DL Tuli Letuligasenoa, and S Kamren Fabiculanan all somewhat close to returning from injury. If the coaching staff thinks they can get out of this game with a W while allowing all of them to get fully healthy before the Husky schedule gets daunting then it probably is worthwhile to do so and also makes this job harder to predict.
Arizona State appeared to show a blueprint that surely all teams will try to follow in order to slow down the Washington offense. Head coach Kalen DeBoer and OC Ryan Grubb aren’t the coaches most think they are if they can’t pinpoint what ASU did in film study and find out ways to counter it in the future. Because Washington is going to see it repeatedly until they show it was only good to catch UW by surprise rather than a long-term answer.
To briefly address the Stanford part of the equation, the Cardinal look like the worst team in the Pac-12. Arizona State may have a worse record but have now 3 consecutive one-possession games as well as were competitive with USC into the 4th quarter in their past 4 games. Stanford had the shocking comeback against Colorado but also were down 29-0 at the half in that contest. They played Arizona close which is somewhat shocking given how the Wildcats have been recently. But they also have lost by 30+ points to USC, Oregon, and UCLA as well as lost at home to FCS Sacramento State.
The Stanford offense has a few playmakers in RB EJ Smith and WR Elic Ayomanor but their quarterback and line play have been extremely inconsistent. On the defensive side, edge rusher David Bailey has played up to his high 4-star recruiting status with 5 sacks but their secondary is depleted in talent which isn’t what you want against Washington.
If Washington doesn’t win this game by 3+ touchdowns (even if they rest everyone questionable to be full strength against USC) it’s a bad sign for how they’re going to close the year. The ASU was so bad that I need to see evidence that kind of offensive performance won’t become a trend and will be happy to look silly if the Dawgs put up 30 points in the first half.
Washington- 31, Stanford- 12
THE FINAL TALLY
Straight Up: Washington- 3, Stanford- 0
Against the Spread (UW -26.5): Washington- 0, Stanford- 3
Average Score: Washington- 36.3, Stanford- 17.7