Stanford has been ascending over the course of the season. The Cardinal are on pace to win the Pac-12 North. The crew from Palo Alto is being mentioned as an outside contender for one of the four spots in the College Football Playoff.
Washington has been terribly erratic. Chris Petersen and the Huskies narrowly lost at Boise State to open their season. After that, UW beat up two rent-a-wins at home. They followed up a six-point loss at home to California by knocking off the Trojans in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Washington leads the overall series history, dating back to 1920, 41-39-4. In Palo Alto, the Huskies hold a 20-19-1 advantage. However, Stanford has won eight of the ten most recent meetings.
College Football Podcast: Week 8 Preview
Washington at Stanford
Kickoff: 10:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)
TV Channel: ESPN
Three Things to Watch
1. Running Over the Huskies?
The Cardinal have averaged 226.3 rushing yards on the ground and scored 16 touchdowns. Washington has allowed only 129.7 rushing yards on average and six touchdowns this season. Can Christian McCaffrey and Barry Sanders find the same amount of running room as they have in the previous weeks? The Huskies must hold the Cardinal at or below the 130- yard total or else Stanford will literally run away with a victory.
2. Status of Jake Browning
Browning injured his throwing shoulder in the waning minutes last Saturday. That pressed K.J. Carta-Samuels into service to try to pull out a last-minute win. Considering that Carta-Samuels has only thrown three passes all season, it is understandable why Chris Petersen did not definitely decide on who will start as quarterback early in the week. Carta-Samuels has completed as many passes to opposing players as he has to his teammates.
3. Washington's Post-Oregon Recovery
The Huskies were licking their chops last Saturday, eagerly anticipating the arrival of the wounded Ducks. Everyone associated with the University of Washington's football team thought this was the golden opportunity. They desperately wanted to end the cursed eleven game losing streak to their gaudily attired neighbors to the south.
Alas, Oregon jumped out to a 13-0 lead. Then the Ducks never let Washington within single digits until less than four minutes left in the game. Carta-Samuels' interception with less than 30 seconds to play extinguished any hope of halting the dozen years of frustration.
How will the Huskies deal with the crushing disappointment of failing to score the go-ahead touchdown and ending their misery? Will that pre-occupy them all week and sabotage their preparation for the leaders of the Pac-12 Northern Division? Will that unfulfilled drive energize them to upset Stanford?
The Cardinal will follow the tried-and-true script of hammering away at the opposing defense with some deep play-action passes mixed in the offensive possessions. Washington's run defense has looked stout so far. However, the Huskies have yet to face a powerful rushing attacking like these guys in the dark red jerseys. The match will be competitive through the first half as Washington will remain with 14 points or less. However, Stanford will wear down the Huskies defense that will spend too much time on the field. Washington's offense with either a seriously limited quarterback or glaringly inexperienced quarterback in charge will not be able to sustain drives. That means very short respites for the defenders. The lack of rest between Stanford's possessions will sap the stamina and will of those dressed in purple and gold.
Prediction: Stanford 45, Washington 23
Written by John La Fleur, a contributor to AthlonSports.com, who focuses on the New Orleans Saints and Michigan State Spartans. He also frequently comments on other teams in the NFL and in NCAA football. Follow him on Twitter @FBConnoisseur.