The Early Glimpse: Washington State vs. Stanford

ESPN.COM PUT into words what no doubt is on the minds of many on The Farm this week: Was Stanford’s meltdown in Seattle on Friday a “one-week bizarro-world” happening or a harbinger of the future?

We’ll find out Saturday night in Palo Alto when the resurgent Cougars of Washington State take on the No. 15-ranked Card.

The Cougars are 2-2 after pounding Oregon 51-33 on Saturday and the Card are 3-1 after a 44-6 pratfall against the Huskies.

  • KICKOFF: 7:30 pm Pacific
  • THE LINE: Opened at 12 1/2, now 7 1/2
  • THE SERIES: Stanford leads 40-25-1

Stanford came into that Seattle showdown with victories over Kansas State, USC and UCLA. The average score -- 25-12 -- was unspectacular, but the Ws were workman-like efforts against perennial top 25 teams and offered nary a clue to the sack-filled, penalty-plagued, arm-tackle-fest the Card offered up on national television Friday.

Those “Home of Intellectual Brutality” t-shirts the Card were wearing before the Husky game look especially precious in hindsight.

"That was as poorly as we could play from start to finish," said Stanford coach David Shaw, a.k.a. the Bradford M. Freeman Director of Football. "We did not rise to the challenge. We just did not play well. It's not the noise, it's not anything else.”

A WSU victory Saturday would be notable because history is on the Stanford side: the Card have lost consecutive games only once since 2010 and they’ve also beaten the Cougs in eight straight.

Another thing the Card are expected to have going for them are healthy cornerbacks. Starters Quenten Meeks and Alijah Holder were dinged up against UCLA and didn’t play against Washington, putting  Alameen Murphy and Terrence Alexander into the starting line up for the first time in their careers. Both Meeks and Holder are expected back for the WSU game.

LAST SEASON: It was heartbreak in Pullman as the Cougs took the No. 8 Card to the brink, 30-28, amid a steady diet of rain and wind. Erik Powell nailed five straight field goals for the Cougs but missed right on a 43-yarder as time expired. The Cougars outgained the Card 442 yards to 312.

STATISTICALLY SPEAKING: The Cougars rank No. 7 nationally in total offense (548.8 yards per game) and Stanford No. 122 (309.8). In total defense, Stanford ranks No. 41 (surrendering 359.3 per game) and WSU is No. 85 (424.8).

Stanford junior running back/return man Christian McCaffrey leads the nation in all-purpose yards, averaging 214.5 per game, and WSU QB Luke Falk is No. 4 in the nation passing yards per game, at 373.8.

FAMILIAR FACES: Stanford quarterbacks coach Tavita Pritchard is the brother of former Cougar linebacker Tana Pritchard and the son of 1981 Holiday Bowl Cougar David Pritchard. The Card feature four players from the state of Washington: LB Mustafa Branch (Bellevue), WR Isaiah Brandt-Sims (Wenatchee), FS Calvin Chandler (Lakewood) and WR Michael Rector (Gig Harbor).

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