For their second daytime kickoff of the season, Stanford (3-5, 1-5 Pac-12) returns home to face Washington State (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12).
The Cardinal and the Cougars enter this game fresh off a loss against ranked opponents. Both teams are looking to reach the six-win threshold in these final weeks of the regular season to become bowl-eligible.
Stanford approaches Saturday after suffering a loss against then-No. 12 UCLA. The Bruins are an athletic team full of playmakers, which was reflected in the final score of the game: 38-13, UCLA. Stanford’s defense met its match, as it found difficulty formulating defensive stops that kept the Bruins out of the red zone. Offensively, Stanford continued its growth. The Karty Party lives on, as junior kicker Joshua Karty remains perfect on the year, going 14-for-14 on field goals this season. He is the only kicker nationwide to have 10 makes of 40+ yards. The injuries also continue to pile on, as junior running back Caleb Robinson becomes third in the running back lineup to sustain injuries, putting the depth of Stanford’s running back position to the test.
Despite the various losses, Stanford remains motivated amidst adversity. The “next man up” mentality that the Cardinal employ in response to injuries has proven enough to keep team morale intact. What is missing? Consistency. This team has proven it can keep teams out of the end zone — versus Arizona State and Notre Dame. This team has shown the ability to move the ball — junior running back Casey Filkins’ 32 runs against Notre Dame. For the rest of the season, the Cardinal will need each unit’s better performances in prior games to come together as one.
Stanford must win three of its remaining four games to gain bowl-eligibility. Considering that the Cardinal have yet to win three straight games this season, it would be in their best interest to walk away from this weekend’s game with a win.
Washington State enters Stanford off a loss against No. 12 Utah. Last week was the third consecutive week the Cougars have lost a game, so they will be looking to pivot into a victorious direction against the Cardinal.
Washington State is known to play aggressive and tricky. “[The offense] spreads you out from sideline to sideline,” said head coach David Shaw. “[The quarterback] can hurt you. He can run. He can move. He’s got a strong arm. He can pick matchups.”
Washington State quarterback Cameron Ward makes his opponent work for defensive stops. As an athletic quarterback, he is known to make dynamic plays that can spread defenses out. His playstyle will require quick reads and strategic aggression from the Cardinal defense.
On the opposite side of the ball, Washington State possesses the best defense in the Pac-12, which afforded a team like Utah only a four-point win over them. It appears that Stanford is reassessing their offensive strategies, so that touchdowns are put on the board against the Cougars come Saturday.
“We are going to have to make them pay for being too aggressive and not having safety help over the top or things like that,” said junior quarterback Tanner McKee. “One missed tackle could mean a really big play or touchdown.”
Stanford football is known to perform well during the month of November. The team hopes this fact will hold true against Washington State this weekend, where both teams could use a win to get them closer to bowl-eligibility.
Kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m. PT on Saturday at Stanford Stadium.