Stanford Cardinal at Washington Huskies (-3, 44 o/u)
The Pac-12 will see an early showdown between its top two teams this Friday (9:00 PM ET) when the no. 7 Stanford Cardinal (3-0 SU and 3-0 ATS) travel to Seattle to face the no. 10 Washington Huskies (4-0 SU and 2-2 ATS) at Husky Stadium.
Both teams have dynamic offenses but move the ball in different ways. Stanford is completely dependent on Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey (79 carries, 436 yards, three touchdowns; 12 receptions, 119 yards, one touchdown). The Huskies have a good run game of their own, led by RBs Myles Gaskin (64 carries, 302 yards, two touchdowns) and RB Lavon Coleman (27 carries, 261 yards, one touchdown). They can also move the ball through the air, though, with QB Jake Browning putting up 904 passing yards and 14 majors through just four games.
Granted, a lot of that came against lesser competition in the first few weeks of the year when the Huskies routed Rutgers, Idaho, and Portland State.
Washington went run heavy in its first Pac-12 test, racking up a stunning 352 yards on the ground in a 35-28 road win over Arizona last week. Coleman had 181 yards and a touch on just 11 carries.
The Cardinal moved to 2-0 in Pac-12 play with a win over UCLA last time out (22-13). The game was closer than the final score indicates; Stanford took a three-point lead with just 24 seconds to play on a TD pass from QB Ryan Burns to JJ Arcega-Whiteside. They iced it by returning a Bruin fumble to the house on the last play of the game, as UCLA was in desperation mode.
McCaffrey was somewhat limited – at least by his standards – in the game, finishing with 138 rushing yards on 26 carries. He’s primed for a bounce-back performance this week. The Husky defense showed obvious signs of weakness against Arizona, getting torched for 308 ground yards by the Wildcats.
Whether Washington will be able to find success on the ground is a much bigger question mark. Stanford has a stout front-seven that’s top-20 in the nation in rushing defense (95.3 YPG). They limited UCLA to just 77 yards on 23 carries (2.3 YPC).
Not only does the defensive side of the ball favor the Cardinal, but so do the betting trends. Stanford is 5-0 ATS in its last five games, and 7-1 SU in the last eight against the Huskies. This year’s Husky team is a different beast, but the school’s historical struggles against Stanford can’t be denied (even against the number: 2-4 ATS in the last six at home).
Pick: Stanford (+3).
Photo credit: Cynthia Yock (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 [http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.