The Game (And RB) You Must See
Posted Oct 5, 2013

Week 6 Fearless Prediction - Washington at Stanford

Washington (4-0) at Stanford (4-0) Oct. 5, 10:30, ESPN

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Oregon-Stanford a month from now may be the Pac-12 title bout, but Washington-Stanford promises to be one heck of a good undercard on Saturday night.

The Huskies have been one of the nation's biggest surprises of the first month, winning all four games convincingly to rise to No. 15 in the latest AP poll. But are they ready to turn the North Division into a bona fide three-team race? How U-Dub performs on the Farm, after opening the league slate with a win over Arizona on Saturday, will tell a lot about the height of this program's ceiling in 2013.

Stanford has a little chip on its shoulder, feeling as if it has something to prove this weekend. Yeah, the Cardinal is No. 5 nationally, but how many people are taking it seriously as a legit national championship contender? Not as many as the program feels is justified. Oh, and there's also the business of payback. Washington handed Stanford one of its two defeats a year ago, a 17-13 loss in Seattle that none of the holdovers has forgotten.
Why Washington Might Win: Yeah, it's only four games, and the competition is about to get a lot tougher, but the Huskies have been doing just about everything right so far.

The team that's fifth in the country in total offense is also 13th in total defense. Washington has balance and diversity on both sides of the ball. The offense has a true workhorse in RB Bishop Sankey, who leads the league in rushing, to go along with the steady hand of QB Keith Price. Justin Wilcox's D has been shockingly good so far, limiting four opponents to just 43 total points and a measly 3.8 yards per play. After employing a lot of youth in 2012, Wilcox has been coaxing more maturity and consistency out of his gifted defenders. The Huskies are confident and ready for their step up in weight class.
Why Stanford Might Win: Washington has yet to face an opponent that's even remotely as physical or as assertive as the one it'll visit this weekend.

The Cardinal is a different breed, one that's more comparable to an SEC prototype than the stereotypical Pac-12 program. Sure, the Huskies are improved in the trenches, but it might not be enough to combat the bare-knuckle demeanor of Stanford. The offense is blue-collar, running through opponents with fullback-sized tailbacks Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. On the other side of the ball, the defense is among the biggest and the baddest in the country. The U-Dub O-line could be in for a setback, as it prepares to lock horns with a talented, next-level-laden front seven spearheaded by linebackers Shayne Skov and Trent Murphy, and ends Ben Gardner and Josh Mauro.

Who To Watch Out For: Price has been revelatory so far, but will it continue this weekend? This could be his toughest test of the year, facing an experienced unit that doesn't make many mistakes. If he's off, the Huskies are in big trouble.

- Stanford might be better than even last year's 12-win squad because QB Kevin Hogan is no longer a rookie. Hogan has brought more of a downfield passing element to the offense, which is helping the ground game. His favorite targets are Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste, the latter of whom could cause problems when Husky CB Marcus Peters is occupied by Montgomery.

- Washington won't win this game by feeding Sankey 40 times, which is how many carries he got a week ago. Instead, the Huskies need to get some of their playmaking receivers, Kasen Williams, Jaydon Mickens and John Ross, into space, where they can create matchup problems.

- There's been no word yet on the availability of All-American Stanford OG David Yankey, who missed the Wazzu game for personal reasons. He's the Cardinal's best blocker, though the unit held up well without him last week.

- In Jordan Richards and Ed Reynolds, the Cardinal might have the best safety tandem in America. The pair won't only provide support in neutralizing the shifty Washington wide receivers, but also TE Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who's still looking for a breakout game in 2013.

What Will Happen: Washington is ready, but so is Stanford. The Huskies are the real deal, even if they can't get off the Farm with a signature win this Saturday. The Cardinal will hold serve at home on the strength of its superior line play and defensive personnel. For the first time this year, Washington will be moved off the line of scrimmage, a reality that'll grow more profound in the second half. This time around, Stanford will be victorious in a close game with the Huskies, with both schools earning widespread respect once the weekend is over.

Prediction: Stanford 34 … Washington 26
Line: Stanford -7 o/u: 52.5
Must See Rating: (5 5 shut down this week due to lack of government funding – 1 Rachel vs. Guy: Kids Cook-Off) … 4.5
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