Washington State and Stanford have both performed differently than they were expected to this season. The Cougars have been the most exciting team in college football, while Stanford has suffered several setbacks. But the Cardinal have a chance to right the ship in this huge Pac-12 game, as Stanford comes into this game as a three-point favorite over the Cougars at BetOnline.
The Cougars are 13th in the nation in scoring offense, putting up a massive 40.7 points per game. They are first in the country in passing yardage, with their 400.7 yards per game through the air being the main reason being their ability to light up the scoreboard.
Quarterback Gardner Minshew is one of the most prolific passers in the sport with 2,745 passing yards on the season in Mike Leach’s air raid offense. With so many pass attempts in this offense, the only thing less balanced than the Cougars’ offense is Leach’s diet.
Washington State is 129th in college football in rushing offense, managing just 72.6 yards per game. However, that is more a product of the team’s preference to air the ball out than it is an indictment on their offense. And with their running backs acting as capable receivers, there is still plenty of production coming from the position.
On defense, Washington State is tied for 46th in scoring defense at 23.3 points per game. Given how fast the tempo is during their games, the fact that the Washington State defense has played that well is somewhat surprising. But they’ll need to play well again here against a Stanford offensive line that is more physical than most.
The only Cougar loss this season was by a field goal at USC, and they just beat Oregon by two touchdowns at home. Given how well their season has gone, Leach’s team will be kicking itself for failing to best USC in a down year.
Wazzu controls its own destiny to win the Pac-12 North. If they win out, including against Washington, they would play for the conference championship. So focus won’t be a problem in this game. But will the Coogs have the execution to match their focus?
Stanford Cardinal Week 9 Analysis
Stanford is 101st in scoring offense, managing 24.9 points per game on the year. They were expected to pound teams into submission this season thanks to their running game, but that just hasn’t been the case.
The Cardinal 127th in rushing in the country, with a mere 91.6 yards per game on the ground. There are a few big reasons for this, but Bryce Love’s nightmare season is at the top of the list.
Bryce Love doesn’t have 400 yards on the season so far. He has been battling injuries and has been just disappointing when he’s been available. This is definitely not the Heisman Trophy season many expected. But Love shouldn’t carry all of the blame for his team’s poor rushing numbers. In fact, nobody should carry the blame for Stanford given how bad they’ve been at carrying the ball this year.
The Stanford O-line deserves their share of blame too. Known for being able to bully teams around, they have not responded well to teams stacking the box to stop Love.
On the bright side, Stanford is 35th in the nation in passing, with 263.1 yards per game. KJ Costello has stepped up to fill the void left by Love’s struggles. He is no Andrew Luck, but he’s made Stanford a competent passing team again in a year where they’ve needed that.
JJ Arcega-Whiteside has been Costello’s biggest threat at wide receiver, scoring nine of Costello’s 13 touchdowns. His ability to catch jump balls has been huge for the Cardinal, and in a game that is sure to feature plenty of offense, that could very well be a factor.
Stanford has only broken 30 points three times in 2018. Two of those times were against non-conference opponents outside of the Power Five, and once was in their miracle comeback against Oregon.
Stanford is 30th in college football in scoring defense, limiting their opponents to 20.7 points per game. But few teams are as potent on offense as Washington State, so something will have to give there.
The season isn’t over yet for Stanford. Back-to-back games against Washington State and Washington give them a chance to control their own destiny. Wins over both would put them in the driver’s seat in the Pac-12 North, so expect a fired up team and crowd in Palo Alto.
Washington State vs. Stanford Trends
If you bet on Washington State against the spread in every game this season, you would be like Lavar Ball in that you’ve never lost. The Cougars are 7-0 against the spread on the season. They are also 4-0 against the spread in their last four conference games and 4-0 against the spread in their last four games against teams with winning records.
Stanford comes into this game at 4-3 against the spread on the year, but zooming out and looking at the bigger picture paints a more impressive portrait for Stanford. The Cardinal are 7-3 against the spread in their last 10 overall games, and 4-1 against the spread in their last five Pac-12 matchups.
This is a battle of two teams who cannot be more different. Washington State is led by an outspoken coach who wants to throw the ball five hundred times per game. Stanford, meanwhile, is led by a more reserved coach and would agree to ban the forward pass if they could.
In this game, Washington State has the edge as they are better at what they do well than Stanford is right now. They can move the ball more effectively and can bail themselves out of third and longs more consistently should it come to that. Take the Coogs to make the Cardinal see red in this huge Pac-12 North contest.