Washington (3-3, 1-2 in Pac-12) at No. 10 Stanford (5-1, 4-0 in Pac-12)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Stanford Stadium
Radio: 1000 AM/97.7 FM
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The line: Stanford by 19
It took all week for sports books to decide on a betting line for this game, likely due to the uncertainty surrounding Jake Browning’s injured shoulder, but it’s out now -- and it’s very high in Stanford’s favor.
The Cardinal enter this game as 19-point favorites over the Huskies, which probably speaks to a few different factors. Stanford is the highest-scoring team in the conference, averaging 48.5 points in four Pac-12 games. Washington, meanwhile, has one of the league’s worst offenses, averaging only 5.07 yards per play in conference games and averaging just 25.7 points. Such a high point spread could also stem from Browning’s questionable status ... or maybe the casinos all know Browning is going to play, and the line would be even higher if they thought otherwise.
Point is: this is going to be a huge challenge for the Huskies, and not just because their starting quarterback is banged up.
Forget about that Stanford team you watched slog its way to just six points in its season opener at Northwestern. The Cardinal have developed into the Pac-12’s most dominant offense so far, using a strong running game led by potential Heisman Trophy candidate Christian McCaffrey, and a passing game navigated by senior quarterback Kevin Hogan.
Stanford’s offensive line is large, experienced and talented. And while the Cardinal’s defense hasn’t been particularly dominant -- they allow 5.15 yards per play, which ranks 40th nationally -- they’re certainly talented enough to limit a Huskies offense that had trouble scoring against a weak Oregon defense last week.
If the Huskies are going to win this game, their defense -- which has held up impressively through six games -- will probably have to hold Stanford below about 21 points, and I don’t know if I see that happening. Part of the reason is that I just don’t see UW’s offense moving the chains frequently enough to win the field-position battle -- whether Browning plays or not -- and that’s going to put a lot of stress on the defense.
In other words, the Huskies will have to play their best game of the season -- and then some -- to have a chance to win tomorrow night. Don’t see that happening.
The pick: Stanford 31, Washington 13.
Christian Caple can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @ChristianCaple