College Football Picks: Stanford at Washington Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/26/2012
The second football game at Seattle’s CenturyLink Field in 72 hours will have to be quite entertaining to live up to the wild ending there of Monday night’s Packers-Seahawks NFL game. But Thursday’s Pac-12 game between No. 8 Stanford and Washington is vital for either team’s hopes of representing the North Division in the conference championship game. (UW is playing this season at CenturyLink while Husky Stadium is being renovated.)
As good as Oregon looks, it seems unlikely that the loser of this game will win the North. For UW, this is the start of a killer five-game stretch, with a trip to No. 2 Oregon next week, followed by a visit from No. 13 USC, a trip to recently ranked Arizona and then a visit from No. 18 Oregon State. The Cardinal already upset the Trojans and should be able to handle their business in the Pac-12 at least until back-to-back road games at Oregon and UCLA to close the season. Currently Stanford is +700 to win the Pac-12 and UW is +5000 on Sportsbook.ag.
Both clubs were off this past Saturday. The Huskies were totally outclassed Sept. 8 at LSU in losing 41-3, but they bounced back a week later with a 52-13 yawner over FCS Portland State. Washington tied a school-record for points in any half with 45 before intermission of that one. Washington’s rushing game is one of the worst in the nation, but sophomore Bishop Sankey broke out with 103 yards and two scores on 14 carries.
Stanford hasn’t taken the field since its 21-14 upset of USC. Josh Nunes, Andrew Luck’s replacement, was just so-so in completing 15-of-32 passes for 215 yards with two touchdowns and two picks. But the offensive star was running back Stepfan Taylor, who had 213 total yards from scrimmage and two scores. The defense was brilliant in making Matt Barkley look ordinary and holding the high-powered Trojans to 280 total yards and just 26 on the ground. Stanford had four quarterback sacks (Barkley was sacked eight times all of last season) and 12 tackles for loss. Stanford is on any list of the Top-5 most physical teams in the nation.
Stanford at Washington Betting Storylines
Stanford is a rare club in these pass-happy days to emphasize the run. And if you go by the rushing attacks, this will be a blowout. Washington is second-to-last in the Pac-12 in allowing 174.7 yards per game on the ground (LSU had 242) and the Huskies are No. 106 in the nation in averaging 113.7 ypg on offense. Expect a heavy dose of Taylor for Stanford. Meanwhile, the Cardinal defense leads the nation in rushing yards allowed per game (41.7) and in yards-per-carry allowed (1.6).
Thus Huskies QB Keith Price probably will have to win this game essentially by himself offensively. He is completing 62.2 percent of his passes for 560 yards with four picks and an interception. But against the lone good defense he has faced, Price completed just 47.2 percent for 157 yards with no TDs and a pick vs. LSU. That was on the road, for what it’s worth.
Last season, Stanford completely overpowered the Huskies in 65-21 win. The Cardinal rushed for a school-record 446 yards – and that was when they had Luck. Taylor led the way with 138 yards on 10 carries. Stanford will need for Taylor to stay on the field in this one as his backup, Anthony Wilkerson, is out with an injury. The next two backs behind Wilkerson, Remound Wright and Ricky Seale, have combined for only nine carries and 24 yards rushing this season. Also keep an eye on Stanford kicker Jordan Williamson. Remember, he was the goat in last season’s Fiesta Bowl loss to Oklahoma State. And Williamson missed three field goals vs. USC.
Overall, Stanford has won four straight and six of seven in this series. It has won three straight at Washington, although this will be the Cardinal’s first game in CenturyLink Field.
Stanford at Washington Betting Odds and Trends
Stanford is 12-3-1 ATS in its past 16 conference games and in its past 16 road games overall. Washington is 0-5 ATS in its past five vs. teams with a winning record but 5-0 ATS in its past five after a bye week. The under is 6-2 in the past eight meetings. Stanford has covered the past four meetings overall and the past four at Washington.
Thursday College Football Picks: Stanford at Washington Predictions
This will be Stanford’s first road game of the season, so it will be interesting to see how the inexperienced Nunes handles the noise. Stanford has won its last three road openers and last three Pac-12 road openers. Stanford has won 11 straight games in the month of September. UW has lost five straight games to ranked teams.
This is one of those games where I like the total – under!! – more than the spread unless it moves a half-point up. At seven or less I would go with the Cardinal, but at 7.5 I would take the Huskies. Obviously, I am not too excited about either side here.
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