Stanford (3-0, 2-0) at Washington (4-0, 1-0)
When: Friday, September 30th 2016
Where: Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA
Time: 9:00 ET | TV: ESPN
The Washington Huskies will face their biggest test of the season thus far and will have a chance to prove they are for real when they host the Stanford Cardinal on Friday night. Washington rode a soft schedule to a quick 3-0 start then came away with a nice road win in Arizona to open Pac-12 play. Washington has won seven straight games dating back to last season, but have lost seven of their last eight to Stanford. Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning has thrown 14 touchdown passes against only two interceptions this season to lead the Huskies to the 10th best scoring offense in the country at 45.8 points per game. Sophomore tailback Myles Gaskin has a team-leading 302 rushing yards but is being pushed by junior Lavon Coleman, who exploded for a career-best 181 yards on 11 carries in Saturday’s 35-28 overtime victory over the Wildcats. Washington did allow an alarming 308 rushing yards at Arizona, which could make slowing down Stanford’s Christian McCaffrey even tougher. Junior linebacker Azeem Victor leads the team with 31 tackles.
McCaffrey is well off the pace of his fantastic 2015 campaign, but his 145.3 rushing yards per game ranks second in the nation to San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey (199.7). He also leads the Cardinal in receiving (13 catches, 126 yards) as quarterback Ryan Burns (395 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions) hasn’t displayed the ability to be a downfield passing threat yet. He did throw a clutch go-ahead touchdown pass with 24 seconds left to beat UCLA on Saturday night 22-13. The defense ranks eighth nationally in scoring at 12 points per game allowed and junior defensive tackle Solomon Thomas was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after returning a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown and also posting a sack against the Bruins. That touchdown came on the last play of the game against UCLA and gave Stanford the cover (-3.5) in what could be the top bad-beat of the season if you bet the Bruins.
We know what Stanford is all about – running the football and solid defense. Washington came into this season as one of the sleepers in the Pac-12 and so far, so good, but this will be their first big test. Their defense worries me a lot, but they can score with anyone and a Friday night home game could prove to be the winning factor. I’ll take a chance with the Huskies.
Pick: Washington -3.5