Washington was already under a watchful eye considering it participated in last season’s College Football Playoff.
November has arrived and the Huskies (8-1, 5-1 Pac-12) are among a handful of teams still alive in the discussion to reach this year’s CFP playoff.
The next step for UW is a 7:30 p.m. Friday game at Stanford. Here’s what you need to know about the Cardinal (6-3, 5-2) and what they’ve done this season.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Any discussion about the Cardinal practically begins and ends with star junior running back Bryce Love. He’s rushed 151 times for 1,456 yards and 12 touchdowns. Love will likely be the best running back the Huskies’ No. 1 defense have faced through this point in the year.
He’s a big-play threat any time he touches the ball. Love is averaging 9.6 yards per carry. Those video game-like numbers aren’t a fluke. As a freshman he had 7.8 yards on 29 carries and averaged 7.0 yards on 112 carries in 2016.
That said, he’s coming off his worst performance of the season in a 24-21 loss at Washington State. He was limited to 16 carries for a season-low 69 yards but was still able to get a touchdown.
CHRYST OR COSTELLO?
Stanford’s running game is concrete. It’s quarterback situation is a bit more shaky. Cardinal coach David Shaw opted to sit senior Keller Chryst in favor of sophomore K.J. Costello against the Cougars.
Costello was 9 for 20 with 105 yards and an interception. His longest pass went for 24 yards. Shaw chose Costello because of Chryst’s inconsistency as of late.
His three most recent games are an example. In a win over Utah, Chryst was 8 for 15 for 131 yards and no touchdowns. A week later, he was 15 for 21 for 181 yards and three touchdowns in a 49-7 victory against Oregon.
Chryst then only completed 48.5 percent of his 33 attempts in Stanford’s 15-14 win over Oregon State on Oct. 26.
ON THE DEFENSIVE
Stanford has been among the nation’s better defenses since 2010. This year’s unit is ranked 73rd which is slightly jarring given the Cardinal were consistently in the Top 40.
Opponents have ran for 1,599 yards and 4.68 yards per carry. It’s why the Cardinal are 82nd against the run in 2017. As for the pass? They’re 70th and are allowing 223 yards per game.
The strength of this year’s defense has been the ability to create turnovers. Stanford has collected 19 turnovers, which is tied for 15th in the nation. Thirteen have come via interception which ranks tied for seventh. Arizona is the only Pac-12 team with more picks than Stanford this season.
GET TO KNOW JUSTIN REID
Again, Love rightfully commands all the attention given his impressive stats. Don’t overlook Justin Reid.
The junior safety heads into the week with five interceptions which is tied for second in the nation behind Texas’ DeShon Elliott.
He’s the younger brother for former LSU and San Francisco 49ers safety Eric Reid.
At 6-foot-1 and 204 pounds, he’s on several watchlists and has become one of the better defensive players in the nation.
Reid was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week on Oct. 9. Take away the season opener against Rice and Reid has recorded at least six tackles in every game to go with his interceptions.
You may have heard. Dante Pettis broke the NCAA record for most punt returns for touchdowns in last week’s 38-3 win over rival Oregon.
Pettis has four touchdown returns this season and is one away from tying the single-season mark. If Pettis were to tie the mark, it might not come against Stanford.
The Cardinal have been one of the best in the nation in holding opponents to minimal gains on punt returns. They’re among several teams tied for first in allowing nine returns of 20 or more yards. The Cardinal have not allowed a return of more than 30 yards this season.
Pettis has seven returns for more than 20 yards, four returns for more than 30, four returns for more than 40, four returns for more than 50, four returns for more than 60 and one return for more than 70.
Ryan S. Clark: @ryan_s_clark