The Stanford Cardinal are coming off a hard-fought win against the No. 15 Washington Huskies last week at home 31-28. Next week, they host the defending Pac 12 South champion No. 11 UCLA Bruins who pushed the Cardinal in last season’s Pac 12 title game. Those are some big games that will be weighing on the minds of the Stanford players this week. David Shaw needs to make sure they aren’t weighed down too much, though, because this week they have the Utah Utes.
Stanford will travel to Salt Lake City this Saturday to take on a Utah program that appears very close to being able to contend in the Pac 12 South. They haven’t been able to close games out yet, but Utah hung in with the Oregon State Beavers in a shootout that went to overtime and pushed UCLA to the brink in a Thursday night showdown in Week 6. Travis Wilson is looking like a future star in the Pac 12 under center for Kyle Whittingham and has been making plays in the Utes’ new wide-open offensive attack.
In short, Utah is dangerous. Stanford is coming off a game where they surrendered 350 yards passing and nearly 500 yards of total offense and can’t afford to be looking ahead to Brett Hundley and the No. 4 offense in the country because Wilson and the Utes have the tools to put points on the board. Shaw needs to get his defense focused on the task at hand this week and avoid a slow start or they might become the first major Pac 12 win for a Utes team hungry to make a splash.
David Shaw is a good coach and will do everything he can to keep his team in the moment this week. When Stanford played an unranked opponent between two ranked conference foes, they ran the Washington State Cougars off the field with one of the most complete efforts the Cardinal have had. Stanford is an excellent team with excellent focus and they’ll need it this week against Utah.
If the Cardinal come out relaxing because of what they did against Washington or preparing themselves for what they need to do against UCLA, look for Utah to score the upset of the year in Rice-Eccles Stadium.