Week 4 Game Matchup: Washington Huskies VS. Stanford Cardinal
Washington Huskies (2-1) vs. Stanford Cardinal (2-1)
Saturday, September 26, 6:00 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: Stanford -7.0
Sam’s Take (20 – 7):
This is a very intriguing game for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, I am excited to see the mental chess game that goes on between two of the best young coaches in the country. Both Steve Sarkisian and Jim Harbaugh are building special programs at their respective schools and a win Saturday would provide a huge boost to either team, as the winner will move to 2-0 in conference play.
I am also looking forward to seeing great quarterback play from both sides. Washington’s Jake Locker is playing as well as any player in the conference, and a strong argument could be made that Stanford’s Andrew Luck is the third best QB in the conference right now (behind Locker and Cal’s Kevin Riley).
While this game may have “letdown” written all over it for Washington, I’m not buying it. The Huskies have heard all week that they must avoid the letdown, and I believe this team will be ready. U-Dub is playing on the road for the first time this season, but the Farm is not exactly the Swamp, so I don’t think the atmosphere will be a factor.
Nick Holt’s Husky D will have to find an answer for Toby Gerhart. Sure USC ran for 250 yards against UW and still lost, but if Gerhart gets going, Andrew Luck will hurt the Huskies in ways that Aaron Corp could not. I expect to see an aggressive game plan from Holt in an effort to stop the run (similar to how UW was able to contain LSU’s bruising RB Charles Scott).
Ultimately, I believe the difference in this game will once again be Jake Locker. Locker looks very comfortable in Sark’s offense and his supporting cast has been excellent (I am especially impressed with James Johnson).
I expect a hard-fought game between two rising programs, but the visitors will have just enough.
Prediction: Washington 31 – Stanford 27
Washington Player to Keep an Eye On: LB Donald Butler - He has been excellent this season and will be a key to containing Gerhart.
Stanford Player to Keep an Eye On: DE Tom Keiser - Keiser is one of the most underrated players in the conference and he will look to pressure Locker all day.
Dave’s Take (20 – 7):
It’s been an emotional roller coaster for the Huskies this season; an emotional and respectable effort against LSU, an end to the nation’s longest losing streak in a win over the Idaho Vandals, and then the unthinkable; an upset win over USC. And it’s all been at home.
Now they must hit the road for the first time to face a Stanford team that for five out of the six halves they’ve played this season have looked like one of the Pac-10’s best teams. The late collapse against Wake Forest (helped along by some awful refereeing) was a rough loss, but I think it was a valuable one for this young team.
I can’t argue with the fact that Jake Locker is the best quarterback in the conference right now. This will without question be the toughest offense that Stanford has faced to this point.
But is everyone really sold on Washington’s defense? Yes they played an outstanding game against USC (albeit against a painfully vanilla offense), but a lot of USC mistakes helped the cause along, too. Toby Gerhart should be able to rack up a ton of yards on the ground WITHOUT putting the ball on the turf, which will result in points on the board for the Cardinal.
I’m not even buying into the whole letdown thing. This Washington team looks like a focused bunch, and I expect them to be ready this Saturday. But in a game that looks to me like it could be a shootout, I like Stanford’s defense better, and I also like the home-field advantage. Washington is going to have to prove me wrong – again.
Prediction: Stanford 34 – Washington 28