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Stanford vs. Washington: Cardinal Cram Session

A repeat of last year would be nice.
A repeat of last year would be nice.

Ccsuw_medium

Opening Number: 116, as in the ranking of Washington's pass defense out of 120 FBS schools.

Key Players to Watch:

  • Andrew Luck, Stanford QB: Luck is always one to watch -- even on ESPN3 -- but he could have a career day. Washington's run defense is ranked 17th in the nation. That shouldn't stop Stanford from trying to run the ball down UW's throat, but if the going gets tough, the Cardinal could get throwing.
  • Devon Carrington, Stanford S: The sophomore will start in place of Delano Howell who will miss today's game -- and possibly more time -- with a hand injury. Carrington has made some big plays as a reserve this season and he figures to be tested by Washington quarterback Keith Price, who ranks fifth in the country in passing efficiency.
  • Chris Polk, Washington RB: Price garners most of the attention, and for good reason, but Polk has put together a fabulous season. The junior is averaging 121 yards per game -- seventh-best in the country -- and has eclipsed 100 yards in all but one game. Stanford held Polk to 17 yards on 13 carries in last year's shutout and the Cardinal ranks second against the run (59.5 yards per game) this season. If Stanford makes the Washington offense one-dimensional by taking away the run, it could be a long day for Price.
  • Cort Dennison, Washington LB: The senior is tied for second in the conference with 50 tackles and has been a steadying influence for Nick Holt's defense this season. Dennison and the rest of the Huskies' linebackers could have their hands full attempting to stuff Stanford's run game while also not letting the Cardinal's trio of tight ends run free.

Key Terms:

  • Homecoming: Stanford came out flat in last year's Homecoming win against Washington State and drizzly conditions made for a sparse crowd. Playing in front of a sellout crowd, the Cardinal, which hasn't trailed all season, may not be able to afford to come out flat against the Huskies.
  • Statement Game: The Huskies lost the only tough game on their schedule (at Nebraska), but their offense is rolling, which makes them a good test for the Cardinal. Washington is also ranked, which would make a win -- especially a convincing win -- look even better to the voters.
  • Pressure: Stanford has generated excellent pressure up front this season and ranks fourth in the country in sacks per game. Price doesn't run as much as much as Jake Locker, but he's pretty shifty in the pocket, and it'll be important for Stanford to make things uncomfortable for him. The Huskies have allowed two sacks per game (59th in the country).

Additional Reading:

  • Stanford isn't expecting a repeat of last year's 41-0 blowout. (Editor's Note: Or maybe they're just smart enough not to tell the media that they're expecting to dominate.) | SF Chronicle
  • John Reid predicts some offensive fireworks. | Palo Alto Daily News
  • A statistical look at Keith Price's season. | SB Nation
  • Washington's SB Nation blog likes the Huskies' chances to cover. | UW Dawg Pound
  • Mark Purdy says all of the NFL talk is unfair to Luck. | Mercury News

Closing Number: 0, as in the number of points Stanford has allowed in the first quarter this season. Keeping that streak alive will be tough against a team that averages 37 points per game.

Prediction: Stanford 48, Washington 21. I think the Huskies' offense could keep things interesting for a half, but I don't see their defense slowing Stanford's balanced attack.