While it’s a sound practice in terms of college football analysis to compare one game to the next between two teams, it doesn’t necessarily give a true prediction of what could unfold. If 2012’s encounter between the Washington Huskies and Stanford Cardinal was any indication, we’d be in for a knock-down, drag-out defensive battle on Saturday night. The two teams managed only a total of 548 yards of total offense last year, in a surprise victory by the Huskies over the then ranked No. 8 Cardinal.
This season, so far, the Huskies and Cardinal have two of the most explosive offenses in the country, both ranked in the top 30 in scoring (Washington at 39.8 points per game, Stanford at 41.3 points per game). On paper, the 4th-ranked Washington defense should have the edge and a strong possibility to prevent Stanford and QB Kevin Hogan from lighting up the scoreboard as they have been accustomed, although it’s important to note that Washington’s success came against largely over-matched opponents through the team’s first four games.
Stanford’s Hogan has been electric so far in 2013, passing for 832 yards and 10 touchdowns versus only three interceptions with a 63.2% completion percentage over 87 attempts. The Stanford receiving corps, led Texas-born junior Ty Montgomery and speedy big man Devin Cajuste — who plays like a small tight end — will present a monumental challenge for a Washington secondary which has been stout so far this season.
If Hogan can get on a roll early in front of the home crowd in Palo Alto, Steve Sarkisian‘s hand could quickly be forced to abandon the quality running game which has made its mark so far this fall and turn exclusively to the air, ensuring a high-scoring shootout predicated on heavy passing from both teams.
But you can rest assured that Washington would just assume do the opposite, and establish the run early on behind the ultra-capable legs of junior RB Bishop Sankey who has already tallied 607 yards through four games and grind down the game to a pace they can better control. Washington senior QB Keith Price is no slouch himself, and will be more than happy to turn Saturday’s game into an aerial war if that’s how things shake out. Price’s 72.3% completion percentage is among the country’s best and his talented corps of wide receivers led by senior Kevin Smith and and junior Kasen Williams can score points in a hurry.
If the spark is ignited at any point in the game’s first quarters for it to become an aerial battle, there is little to suggest either team will back off and try to slow the pace back down. Washington will do their best to establish a more controlled pace early on to get the home crowd out of the contest, but if this is no longer an option Huskies fans shouldn’t fret too much.
Either way, 2013’s version of this important Pac 12 matchup will look little like 2012. These are two very different teams from what we saw last October.
Join me and Tyler Brett for the Google + Pregame Rant this Saturday at 12 Central Time (10 Pacific) as we break down the Texas/USC coaching situations, the lack of respect the Pac 12 gets across the country, and a detailed analysis of the Washington/Stanford matchup!
Kris Hughes is a Senior Writer and Business Analyst for Rant Sports.