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5 keys for Cougars vs. Card

THE STATE OF WASHINGTON did its best to announce a new world order in the Pac-12 North a week ago. But the Cougs can remove any and all doubt today in Palo Alto -- if they can bring the same level of offensive execution to The Farm. The Card defense is far stronger than the Oregon D, though, and Stanford won’t give up its conference crown easily. Here are the 5 keys to a Cougar victory.

WHEN WSU HAS THE BALL
1. Attack the corners
With both Card starting cornerbacks doubtful for this game,  Luke Falk needs to punish their replacements after they had a shaky (at best) debut against UW.

2. Be patient, but relentless.
Stanford thrives off its opponents’ mistakes -- the Cougs’ first priority is to not beat themselves.  The Cardinal offense only averages 21 ppg, however, so the Cougs need to be the ones to force the issue.  Stanford cannot compete with Mike Leach and WSU in a shootout.

WHEN WSU IS ON DEFENSE
3. Attack McCaffrey.
McCaffrey's return skills make him a natural runner in space.  You cannot expect to contain him – UW blasted Stanford and McCaffrey still racked up 223 all-purpose yards on the Huskies – so it is a far, far better proposition to hit him at the point of attack as many times as possible.

4. Don't fall too far behind too early.
Stanford becomes a different animal under head man David Shaw when they have a lead to work with -- the Cougar defense needs to come out of the game strong, take Stanford’s best first half punch, and keep the game within reach.

5. Do not kick to McCaffrey.
WSU special teams, as good as the punt coverage stats may be, continue to remind us an elite kickoff returner can undo so much good Wazzu work in a matter of seconds.  McCaffrey is the best in the business.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. / ESPN
Matt Moore’s Prediction: WSU 31, Stanford 27

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