Preview: Stanford at Washington
The end of Washington’s four-game homestand is the beginning of a crucial stretch in the Huskies’ season.
Saturday marks the start of Pac-12 play for UW against a No. 16 Stanford team that has won the conference the past two years.
But it also starts a stretch that will test the mettle of a UW team that has shown flashes of being really good, but also enough inconsistency to justify the doubters.
After Saturday’s tough test, the Huskies play three of their next four on the road. Simply said, they can no longer afford to be comatose for a half. Last week, when they trailed Georgia State 14-0 at the break.
Stanford won’t allow you to rally after falling behind early. The Cardinal have the nation’s top defense in yards allowed (204.0 per game) and points allowed (4.3 per game).
Stanford has the nation’s best pass defense, allowing 66 yards per game. Junior Alex Carter, one of the Pac-12’s best cornerbacks, is joined by fellow three-year starter Wayne Lyons. Together, they give Stanford a defensive backfield that makes this famous alum proud, even though he sometimes played receiver in college.
The game’s most critical matchup will be between Stanford’s offensive line and Washington’s defensive front, which leads the nation with 19 sacks. Danny Shelton (7 sacks) and Hau’oli Kikaha (6 sacks) will rush Stanford QB Kevin Hogan, who is protected by an offensive line that lost four of five starters from last year.
Still, the O-line fits the Stanford mold. They’re big, physical and are relied upon by a team that runs the ball 60 percent of the time, a rarity in today’s game.
Speedy receiver John Ross is questionable for Saturday after sitting out the Georgia State game with an injury. Backup running back Jesse Callier is out for the season after tearing his Achilles Saturday.
Stanford at Washington
When: 1:15 p.m. Saturday at Husky Stadium, Seattle
TV, radio: Fox, AM-1550
Records: Stanford (2-1, 0-1), UW (4-0, 0-0)
Key to game: Points will be at a premium in what will likely be a defensive slugfest, which makes turnovers even more costly. The Huskies have turned the ball over once all season. They’ll need to continue taking care of the ball to have a shot against Stanford.
Quotable: “This is going to be a completely new challenge to us that we haven’t seen in the first four games and we’re well aware of that. We have to step our game up. We have to play at a level we haven’t played at yet to compete with these guys.” — UW coach Chris Petersen.
Prediction: Washington 21-17