Tonight we have a Thursday night PAC 12 conference game between the Stanford Cardinal and the Washington Huskies. I believe both defenses are a little further along than the offenses and this game has the makings of a close, hard fought defensive battle. For that reason I prefer the under 48 (48 is a very strong key number and I would not wager anything below this number).
I see a lot of similarities between this game and that LSU-Auburn game last Saturday. Stanford and LSU are two very similar teams. Both teams like to run hard, run heavy, run often and play good, physical defense. And like LSU did last weekend, Stanford will be taking a rookie QB on the road for the first time to take on a decent, but hardly overwhelming defense. LSU was averaging 48.33 ppg before that game. The Bayou Bengals managed 12 points at Auburn.
Stanford QB Josh Nunes has hardly looked impressive in his first three starts. His completion ratio is 53.85% (down from Andrew Luck’s 71.22%) and his pass efficiency rating is 126.33 (down from Andrew Luck’s 169.48). Stanford also drops from a national leading 52.57% third down efficiency in 2011 to a dismal 30.77%, good enough for 100th in the country.
No doubt the Cardinal will be relying on their bruising ground game, which has had great success against this UW D, especially last year as Stanford rushed for 446 yards and 5 TDs on this Husky defense. However, without Luck keeping the Husky D honest, and with new UW DC Justin Wilcox having two weeks to prepare for this Luckless version of the Stanford offense, I don’t expect to see anywhere near those type of rush numbers in tonight’s game. This year’s UW defense looks improved.
On the other side of the ball I just can’t see how Stanford’s front seven doesn’t dominate a beat up UW offensive line. The Huskies have already allowed 7 sacks against two FBS opponents this year, so how are they going to protect QB Price tonight against Stanford’s aggressive and talented DL?
UW is also struggling to run the ball and we all saw how the lack of a run game affected USC QB Matt Barkley. Price is more mobile than Barkley, so I expect him to create a few plays, but without the threat of a running game it could be a long night for UW’s offense. LSU’s defense completely shut down UW’s running game (26 yards on 24 carries) and I believe Stanford’s front seven is every bit as good as LSU’s.
I’ll say Stanford wins this one ugly, 24-17.
Let me know what you think about tonight’s game by leaving your thoughts and comments below.