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STANFORD CARDINAL vs WASHINGTON STATE COUGARS


11/1/08


Stanford -30 over Washington State - The reeling Washington State Cougars travel on down to the beautiful San Francisco Peninsula to take on the rich kids from Stanford University in this Pac-10 match-up.


The Cougars are winless in 5 conference games, while the Cardinal are actually in the thick of things at 3-2 and just 1 game behind co-leaders USC and Oregon, and just a half a game behind second place Cal and Oregon State. Not that they have much of a chance of winning the conference, but they are definitely looking at 4-2 after this game.

Washington State, at 1-7 overall and 0-5 in the conference, has been getting absolutely obliterated by their opponents, and are quite possibly the worst team in Div 1-A football this year. You can throw out their lone win, which was against bottom tier Div 1-AA Portland State, and I will not include any stats from that game. So in their 7 games vs Div 1-A opponents, the Cougars closest losses have been by 25 pts to UCLA, and 26 pts to Oklahoma St. Four Pac-10 teams have hung over 60 pts on them. The average score in their 5 conference games has been 58.4 - 6.6. Thatís an average margin of defeat of almost 52 pts. per game! (Stanford, in their 5 conference games, have scored 100 points more than Washington State, and have given up 150 points less). And to make things even worse, the Cougars are now down to their 3rd string QB, Kevin Lopina. His stats on the year, over 3 games including 1 start, are 33 of 59 for 343 yds, with 0 TDís and 6 INTís, and just a 5.8 yd average gain per completion.


Some other negatives? They are a minus 14 in turnovers, they are averaging only 11.8 first downs per game, they are averaging 8 punts per game and 8 penalties for 80 yds per game, they are attempting less than 1 FG per game, they are only averaging 70 yds rushing per game and just 129 yds passing. And injuries have played a huge role in the Cougarís woes this year, as 16 of their 43 players to start a game have combined to miss 39 games. The offensive line has had to use 6 different lineups through their first 8 games and the team has had to use 24 first time starters this year, as well as 20 underclassmen, and including 5 true freshmen..
As a defense, they are giving up close to 475 yds per game, including 266 yds rushing.

They have given up an astonishing 34 TDís on the ground! Thatís 8 more rushing TDís than the next worst team in the country in that category. To give you some more perspective on how they compare to other teams, out of the 119 Div 1-A teams, they are ranked 115th in total offense, 110th in total defense, 115th in punt returns, 117th in turnover margin, 117th in sacks Ďforí, 115th in sacks Ďagainstí and 112th in tackles for loss. In other words, this is a very bad team on both sides of the ball.


Washington State is coming off of a 69-0 home loss to powerhouse USC. In that game, the Cougars were held to 116 total yds of offense, 88 rushing and 28 through the air. USC piled up 362 yards and 5 TDís on the ground, and QB Mark Sanchez passed for another 253 yds and 5 TDís through the air. Thatís 10 TDís in one game!

The Stanford Cardinal returned 16 starters from a team that went just 4-8 last year, and at 4-4 they have already met that win total with 4 games remaining. However, with Oregon, USC and California on deck, they may have a tough time getting the 6 wins required for bowl game consideration. Regardless, they have enough motivation to not take this game lightly as it is definitely a must win considering the remaining schedule. The Cardinal are undefeated at home this year with wins against Oregon State, San Jose State and Arizona. Both teams are coming off of their bye week.


Stanford is led on offense by junior QB Tavita Pritchard, who has completed 58% of his passes for 1037 yds, 7 TDís and 9 INTís. But that really isnít Stanfordís bread and butter anyway. Where they excel is on the ground where they have accumulated over 1500 yds and 14 TDís, and a 5 YPC team average. Theyíve got a great one, two punch with returning star RBís Tony Gerhart (138 carries for 779 yds, 9 TDís, 5.6 YPC avg) and Anthony Kimble (76 carries for 452 yds, 3 TDís, 5.9 YPC avg). The two have also combined for 17 receptions for 150 yds and a TD.


Probably the closest team to Washington State that theyíve faced so far was the Washington Huskies. In that game, Pritchard was 16 of 24 for 222 yds and 3 TDís with no INTís. Gerhart was injured early in the 1st Q but Kimble rushed for 157 yds and 2 TDís, while backup RB Jeremy Stewart added 67 more yards on just 11 carries. All in all, 466 yds of total offense and 5 TDís in a 35-28 road victory. Of course Washington has some semblance of an offense, whereas the Cougars donít.

Stanford ranks 2nd in the Pac-10 with an average of 192 yds per game rushing, and they are 4th in the conference in rushing defense, giving up just 110 per game on average. And in conference play, that drops to just 103 yds per game allowed. Conference foes Oregon State, Arizona and UCLA were all held under 86 yards on the ground.


The Cardinal have extra motivation is this game as the Cougars won last yearís meeting at Pullman, plus they have won the last 4 trips to Stanford. And you know they will be made well aware of that fact.


Stanford is not a powerhouse by any means. But they certainly have the skills, motivation and advantages to turn this game into a rout. Washington State brings virtually nothing to the table on either offense or defense. To repeat what I said earlier, the Cougars have been outscored by an average of almost 52 points per game in conference play. So when you take that into consideration, the 30 point line does not seem unreasonable. The only other huge favorite I have picked this year was Oklahoma Ė21 at Washington, and they won that game by 41 points. I think this is another instance where there isnít much danger in laying the large line.
Note: There is rain in the forecast for the Palo Alto area this weekend. If itís just a steady light rain, I think that favors Stanford and their running game. If itís torrential downpour and high wind, then I guess anything can happen, so keep an eye on the weather reports.

Washington State is 0-7 ATS this year, and the lines have been huge recently. They were 30 pt dogs at Oregon St and lost 66-13, and they were 42 pt home dogs vs USC and lost 69-0. They are 3-10 ATS in their last 13 roles as road underdog.


Stanford is 3-0 both SU and ATS at home this year. They are 8-2-1 ATS in their last 11 roles as a home favorite. My pick here is the Stanford Cardinal Ė30 pts.

 

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