Washington State will look to build on the momentum they created for themselves last weekend against Oregon when they head down to Northern California to play against the Stanford Cardinal. Stanford will be looking to bounce back after taking a beat down at the hands of the Washington Huskies last Friday. Washington State has their chance at revenge after losing by two points at home last season to the Cardinal, on a missed field goal as time expired by Erik Powell.
Players to watch for Stanford: There’s not too many people to watch for the Cardinal, but the obvious one that stands out is do-it-all running back Christian McCaffrey. McCaffrey was pretty much bottled up all night on Friday at Washington and he will be looking to have a bounce back game against a Cougars defense that is starting to look better and better with each week. With McCaffrey however, you have to worry about more than just stopping him while you’re on defense. You have to try and bottle him up on kickoff returns, and for a team that gave up a kickoff return for a touchdown last weekend, they will need to avoid that this week. Michael Rector is the Cardinal’s best downfield threat in the passing game. He is really the only receiver that is capable of stretching the field for the Cardinal.
Keys for the Cougars: Besides trying to contain Christian McCaffrey as much as they possibly can in all facets on the game, they will need to make sure they don’t let Michael Rector, or any other Stanford receiver start to stretch the field vertically, because if they allow that it will only make it easier for the big Cardinal offensive line to really get after the Cougars defensive front and give Christian McCaffrey room to run, possibly making themselves vulnerable to a home run type play. They need to make sure they are making the Cardinal put drives together. The Cardinal will have their top two corners out this weekend also and that is something that Luke Falk and the Cougars receivers will have to take advantage of. If they can start to spread the Stanford defense out because of the passing game they could start to run the ball on Stanford. They really got the running game going last week against Oregon and they would benefit greatly from at least having a running game this weekend because it would put much more pressure on players in the Stanford secondary that aren’t use to playing as many meaningful snaps as they will have to. Special teams will be important as always. They can’t allow McCaffrey to get loose on returns, and they will need Erik Powell to be able to make a field goal if the opportunity presents itself.
Other important info: The game kicks off at 7:30 PM PT on ESPN. Stanford comes into the game as 8 point favorites and the over/under for the game is set at 58.