Stanford vs. Washington State Prediction, Game Preview

    Stanford vs. Washington State prediction and game preview. The Cardinal look to stay in the College Football Playoff hunt as they travel to Pullman to take on the Cougars.

    October 27, 2015

    The Stanford Cardinal (6-1) and the Washington State Cougars (5-2) meet Saturday night with first place in the Pac-12 North hanging in the balance. Check out the Stanford vs. Washington State prediction and game preview.

    Stanford vs. Washington State Game Preview

    Broadcast

    Date: Saturday, October 31
    Game Time: 10:30 ET
    Venue: Clarence D. Martin Stadium, Pullman, Washington
    Network: ESPN

    Follow and/or Contact @Rich Cirminiello

    Why You Need To Care

    On the opening weekend, Wazzu lost to Portland State and Stanford wilted meekly to Northwestern. But as dirt was being poured on the Cougars and the Cardinal, both have risen from the dead, setting the stage for a Halloween clash in Pullman with first place in the Pac-12 North riding on the outcome.

    Washington State and Stanford have rebounded in impressive fashion, a credit to the staffs of Mike Leach and David Shaw, respectively. Based on preseason expectations—and about a decade of futility—the Cougs have easily been the bigger surprise. They’ve won five of the last six, including three straight league games for the first time since 2003, and the energy in Martin Stadium Saturday night will be a direct reflection of years of pent-up fan base frustration.

    While Stanford is one of the league’s power programs, the performance in Evanston seemed to signal the end of a run that began with Jim Harbaugh and continued with Shaw. But the Cardinal has rallied like a freight train, steamrolling six straight opponents by an average of 21 points. And from such humble beginnings, No. 8 Stanford is now the Pac-12 frontrunner, as well as the league’s best shot of punching a playoff ticket.

    Why Stanford Will Win

    Where are the holes for Wazzu to exploit?

    The Cardinal is doing just about everything crisply these days, from mixing the all-purpose exploits of RB Christian McCaffrey with the efficient passing of Kevin Hogan to leading the league in defense. Stanford will be better—and stronger—at the line of scrimmage than Washington State, particularly when it has the ball. The Cardinal is back to dominating on the ground again behind FB Daniel Marx and linemen Graham Shuler and Joshua Garnett, and the Cougars are yielding more than five yards per carry.

    Why Washington State Will Win

    Luke Falk is emerging into a superstar. And when Leach has a dart-thrower behind center, his teams are always dangerous.

    Falk has been playing out of this world in his second year, throwing 26 touchdown passes to only four picks. The Joe Dahl-led line is holding its own in protection, and seven different receivers have at least 20 receptions. While Stanford has been good against the pass, it hasn’t been impenetrable. The Cardinal allowed three touchdown passes in wins over USC and UCLA, and the team has just three picks all year. Stanford, which is a better run blocking than pass pro team, must also contend with a Cougar D that’s second in the league with 56 tackles for loss.

    Player Who Matters

    As the lone sophomore in a senior-laden secondary, Cardinal CB Alijah Holder is going to be picked frequently by Falk.

    Stanford has done a solid job of rebuilding the secondary in 2015, thanks in large part to veteran CB Ronnie Harris and FS Kodi Whitfield. Holder, though, who struggled in the USC game, will need to buckle up this weekend. The Cougars will flood routes with sure-handed receivers, like Gabe Marks, Dom Williams and River Cracraft. Fortunately for Holder, he should get help on the intermediate routes and crossing patterns from linebackers Kevin Palma and Blake Martinez, who do a nice job in coverage.

    What’s Going To Happen?

    The atmosphere on the Palouse will signify an epic upset. But Stanford will weather the storm to remain on track for a Pac-12 title and possibly more.

    The way Falk is playing, the Cougars can beat a lot of teams, particularly in their own building. The Cardinal, however, are humming at an even higher level, getting it done on both sides of the ball. And its superior defense and ability to pummel an opponent for 15 rounds will wear the Cougars down in the second half. Falk will get his numbers, but McCaffrey will once again be the MVP of a Stanford win.

    Stanford vs. Washington State Prediction

    Final Score: Stanford 44, Washington State 31, Line: Stanford -12, o/u: 64.5
    Must See Rating: 5: Jimi Hendrix: Electric Church ; 1: The Peanuts Movie … 4

    MORE: College Football Bowl Projections After Week 8

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