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Stanford at Washington: Stranger Things

We don’t normally think of Stanford and Washington as rivals but this is a big game with big implications.

Stanford v UCLA Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

When you think of Stanford football or Washington football, you don’t put them together like you would Stanford/Cal or Washington/Oregon. Yet with all of these other rivalries Stanford and Washington have played 86 times and both have won 41 games with 4 ties. Both sides have gone a decade without losing to the other team and this Friday, the winner will not only break the tie in this series but push themselves as the true contenders not only for the Pac-12 but for a College Football Playoff run.

Stanford and Washington both have had 15 conference titles and maybe one of the reasons why this hasn’t been considered a rivalry is because in those 30 combined conference titles, only 5 of those had Stanford and Washington one and two in the standings. Washington won in 1992, 1977, and 1925 and all 3 games were played in Washington. Stanford beat Washington in 1970 and 1940 and you guessed it, those were played at Stanford Stadium. If Stanford and Washington do finish one and two once again, this will be one of those stats to look back on and see if Stanford can end the reign of purple while getting a victory on the road to do so.

Since 2008, Stanford is 7-1 against Washington and has scored less than 30 twice. Stanford meanwhile hasn’t given up 30 or more to Washington since 2001. Stanford has yet to score 30 this season but remember after the Northwestern loss last year, Stanford went on to score 30 or more in every single game. They’ve also given up only 36 points in 3 games this year so don’t expect a complete breakdown from the Cardinal against a high-powered Huskies team.

It’s rare that you actually get to see a ranked Stanford team go up against a ranked Washington team and while it did just happen in 2013, that game was played at Stanford. You have to go back to 1993 for an all-ranked game at Washington. Stanford did not prevail in that game and it seems as if Stanford doesn’t play well up north but on the contrary, Stanford has won 20 of their 41 games against Washington in Washington. While Stanford has had some big moments up there such as the 2006 1-11 year where the only victory was against Tyrone Willingham, the 41-0 game in 2010, or the slog of a game in 2014, the game that should be compared to this week is 2012.

Many Stanford fans will always adore 2012 as the year that kept Stanford on the map but it was the loss at Washington that hurt them from possibly playing for more than roses. Stanford came into the game 3-0 off of a big upset against USC. New quarterback Josh Nunes looked like he was going to be good enough to keep Stanford afloat as they were still adapting after losing Andrew Luck. Stanford still had a great defense and was giving up only 14 ppg. Stanford showed up as if they would walk over Washington scoring only 13 points with no offensive touchdowns. Nunes would go 18/37 with a QBR of 18… Stanford did have some drops but that still doesn’t excuse the 5-18 conversion rate on 3rddown. Stanford played great defense and only gave up 17 points but when you can’t score, it’s great enough.

Fast forward to 2016 and you have a better quarterback with better weapons. I don’t see Burns going 18/37 like Nunes did nor do I see Stanford rushing for only 68 yards. The defense is very similar to what it was in 2012 and even with a few injuries; Stanford has the depth and athletes to compete with Washington. I’m going to say this one time and one time only, CHRISTIAN MCCAFFREY IS HEALTHY AND IS THE BEST PLAYER ON THE PLANET SO THERE’S THAT. This Stanford team has a road game under its belt and David Shaw has been ok since that loss in 2012. Don’t get your hopes up if Washington is better than Stanford on Friday but don’t be shocked if Stanford goes into Washington and shows the dawgs who the top dog truly is.

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