Game previews can get boring, but this game is special. I don't even know what to make of it.
On the surface, it's a bit of an aberration. Stanford is 2-1 and is ranked 16th. Washington is 4-0 and is unranked. Stanford hasn't played their best football and people aren't panicking. Washington hasn't played their best football, either, and people are wondering if they ever will.
We all know Stanford is going to bring a bruising brand of football to Seattle. They are going to tell your they're running left, and run left; tell you they're running right, and run right. If the defense can stop it, they will.
The Cardinal's loss to USC is worsening by the week, but if Washington wants to win, they're going to have to come to play.
The first half against Georgia State for Washington wasn't...they couldn't...well, they just didn't play well. They were two takeaways from being down four scores at the half, an almost insurmountable deficit and perhaps a morale-killing one.
But the second half was brilliant. The talent differential finally showed itself because Washington finally showed up. But all bets are off in conference play.
Washington hasn't played a good team yet. Eastern Washington is good, but not FBS good. Hawaii isn't good. Illinois isn't good. Georgia State isn't good.
Stanford is good.
Stanford is still in the race for the Pac 12 North Division Championship, even with a conference loss. Stanford is used to being at the top of the division and playing for the Pac 12 title. Stanford is used to beating good teams.
Washington is none of those things right now. Washington will have to beat Stanford this Saturday to have a shot at the division, the conference title and get used to beating good teams.
But it won't be easy.
Washington's defense, while stiff up front, is thin in the back. Marcus Peters has been the only real consistent member of the secondary. I would expect Washington to play well in run defense. As we've established, though, Stanford will want to run the ball heavily. Those jumbo packages are no joke and Washington will have its hands full with them.
As for Washington's offense, it's a little more complicated.
Cyler Miles is still adjusting to the new offense and all of the receivers. Kasen Williams has been non-existent. John Ross III didn't play last week and it's still unclear if he will play Saturday.
Lavon Coleman, Dwayne Washington and Co. have been successful toting the rock, and an interesting dual-quarterback system arose last week when Jeff Lindquist was getting carries out of the quarterback position.
Washington finally got some semblance of a return game, when Dante Pettis returned every punt he caught for big or decent games.
I'm looking at this game differently than most people probably are.
I'm looking like it as an opportunity for Chris Petersen and his staff to make their mark on the Washington program. They certainly haven't done it yet, but the Pac 12 opener for Washington — and Petersen — will be a great opportunity to do so.
Petersen always seemed to get his kids up for the biggest games. Let's hope his motivational ability works again, because this game is special