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Preview and prediction: #9 Washington at Stanford

#9 Washington (8-1) at Stanford (6-3)

Friday, 7:30 p.m.

Stanford Stadium

Line: Washington -6

TV: FS1 Radio: KOMO

The No. 9 ranked Washington Huskies are coming off an impressive 38-3 victory over their rivals, the Oregon Ducks. It was a big win for the Huskies, probably even more so for the fans.

This week, the focus shifts to a game that has huge implications in the Pac-12 north. A Washington win over Stanford, puts UW in prime position to win the north. If Stanford wins, it puts them in great position to win the north.

In last year’s top-10 showdown between the schools at Husky Stadium, Washington dominated the Cardinal, 44-6. The Huskies held Stanford to 213 total yards.

But this game presents a much different challenge for Washington. The Huskies haven’t beaten Stanford in Palo Alto since 2007. And Stanford this season has been unbeaten in three games at home, outscoring opponents by an average of 25.0 points per game.

After scoring just seven points at Arizona State in a 13-7 loss, the Huskies got a bye week and things have changed ever since. In UW’s last two games, they are averaging 41.0 points per game and 290 yards rushing per game. The Huskies have seemed to have found their identity on offense. For the season, UW is ranked No. 14 in the nation in scoring offense, averaging 38.6 points per game.

Washington now ranks No. 1 in the nation in total defense, allowing 240.9 yards per game. UW’s defense is also No. 2 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 11.1 points per game. Despite the injuires to both starting cornerbacks (Jordan Miller and Byron Murphy), UW’s defense ranks No. 3 in pass defense, allowing 149.8 yards per game. Against the run, UW ranks No. 6 in the country, allowing 91.1 yards per game on the ground. Across the board, this might just be the best defense in all of college football.

Stanford’s offense comes in limping to Friday night’s big game. The Cardinal’s offensive struggles were highlighted last week, in their 24-21 loss to Washington State. Stanford finished with just 198 yards of offense. A less than 100 percent Bryce Love had a 52-yard TD run but his other 15 carries, went for a total of 17 yards. What’s really hurting Stanford is their inconsistent quarterback play. The Cardinal rank 101st in the nation in passing offense, averaging 181.3 yards passing per game. Overall, Stanford’s 33.7 points per game ranks No. 32 in the nation.

On defense, the Cardinal have been solid. Stanford ranks No. 2 in the Pac-12 and No. 34 in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 21.3 points per game. Last week, against Washington State, Stanford held WSU to 24 points and had a pick-six but it wasn’t enough in the loss. The week before, the Cardinal held Oregon State to 14 points. In Stanford’s last three games, they’ve held opponents to 13.6 points per game.

Key Players: Washington 

(WR) Dante Pettis

The senior wide receiver is fresh off breaking the NCAA all-time record for punt return touchdowns, returning his ninth career punt return TD against Oregon. Pettis also finished the game with 87 yards receiving, including a 47-yard TD catch. It will be interesting to see how Stanford punts to Pettis on Friday night.

(DT) Vita Vea

The 6-foot-5, 340-pound redshirt junior is having another spectacular season for the Huskies. Vita Vea has 24 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, and 3 sacks. Vea often faces double teams but still fights them off and ends up in the backfield many times a game.

(RB) Myles Gaskin

The junior has found his groove this season. Myles Gaskin has rushed for 292 yards and two touchdowns in the last two games. For the season, Gaskin has 918 yards rushing, 10 touchdowns, with a 6.2 yards per carry average. Myles Gaskin needs 82 yards this week for his third straight season with at least 1,000 yards rushing.

Key Players: Stanford

(RB) Bryce Love

When most football fans think of Stanford today, the name Bryce Love will always be the first name mentioned. Despite missing a game this season, Love’s 1,456 rushing yards ranks No. 2 in the nation. The 5-foot-10, 196-pound junior has a run of 50 or more yards in 10 straight games. Love has an incredible average of 9.6 yards per carry. The battle between UW’s defense against Bryce Love should be fun to watch.

(DT) Harrison Phillips

There’s no Solomon Thomas for Stanford this year. But Harrison Phillips has been a wrecking havoc in the middle for the Cardinal. Phillips leads the team with 68 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, and 5 sacks. Washington head coach, Chris Petersen, had high praise for Phillips earlier in the week,”Definitely one of the better d-lineman in our conference,” Petersen said. The Huskies were able to neutralize Solomon Thomas last year. It will be intriguing to watch how they handle the 6-foot-4, 295-pound Harrison Phillips this year.

(S) Justin Reid

The 6-foot-1, 204-pound junior safety is having a great year. Justin Reid’s five interceptions are tied for second most in the nation. Reid’s 61 tackles are second most on the team. Look for Justin Reid to be all over the field Friday night.

Keys to the game

1. Stop Bryce Love

Right now, Stanford relies so much on Heisman hopeful running back Bryce Love. Last season, the Huskies held Christian McCaffrey to just 49 yards rushing and made Stanford throw the ball. If the Huskies can do that to Love, they have a good chance of winning on the road.

2. Get an early lead

Washington got out to a quick lead against Stanford and ran away with the win last year. Stanford loves getting an early lead so they can use their ground-and-pound style offense to wear teams down. If the Huskies can get an early 10-14 point lead it will force Stanford out of their normal offense.

3. Make Stanford prove they can stop the run

Stanford has had their struggles stopping the run this season. They rank No. 82 in the country, allowing 177.7 rushing yards per game. In Washington’s last two games, they have rushed for a combined, 580 yards. If the Cardinal can’t stop the run expect UW to keep pounding the rock.

Game notes

* Washington leads the all-time series between the schools, 42-41-4

* The Huskies are 12-0 dating back to last season when a Husky player rushes for at least 100 yards

* UW’s remaining schedule ranks 18th toughest in the FBS according to the NCAA

* Washington hasn’t allowed more than 28 points in 23 straight games

*UW has a record of 23-3 in their last 26 games


Stanford’s one-dimensional offense is going to have to find a way to throw the ball at least a little bit against the best defense they’ve seen this year. If they can’t, it will likely be a long day for the Cardinal on offense. Stanford’s defense could give Washington some problems if they let Harrison Phillips disrupt the game. But right now, Washington is better on both sides of the ball.

Washington 28 Stanford 10

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