Stanford looking to avoid letdown game

AP File PhotoJosh Nunes and the Cardinals will take on Washington State on their home turf this Saturday.

AP File PhotoJosh Nunes and the Cardinals will take on Washington State on their home turf this Saturday.

Stanford (5-2, 3-1 in the Pac-12) kept its Rose Bowl hopes alive by smothering Cal’s offense in a 21-3 victory last weekend, and the Cardinal simply needs to avoid a major letdown to beat Washington State at Stanford on Saturday and stay in the Pac-12 Conference title race.

This should be the easiest conference game of the season for the Cardinal. Not only has Washington State lost four in a row to drop to 0-4 in the Pac-12, but the Cardinal will be at home, where its offense has been much better than it’s been on the road.

Specifically, quarterback Josh Nunes has been better at home. Even though he had his best road game of the season against Cal, he barely completed more than 50 percent of his passes (16-for-31), and he hasn’t demonstrated a control of the situation on the road like he has at home.

The Cougars rank near the bottom of the Pac-12 in all defensive categories, so Nunes and the rest of the Cardinal offense should be able to do virtually anything they want.

Stanford will simply try to pound the Cougars into submission early with its power running game, hoping to take the life out of the Cougars, who could give up the fight if they get behind.

Washington State’s offense has not been particularly effective under first-year coach Mike Leach, and Stanford’s defense should be able handle anything the Cougars offer.

However, WSU’s Marquess Wilson is the kind of big-play wide receiver who can give the Cardinal secondary problems. And the Cougars could use two quarterbacks — either Connor Halliday or Jeff Tuel — presenting a preparation problem for the Cardinal defense. Tuel is expected to start against the Cardinal, and he has been the more productive of the two.

One final issue is that Stanford has played a lot of close, low-scoring games, relying on its defense to keep it in games while its offense does just enough to get a victory. That does not leave much room for error, so a few mistakes could be costly, even against Washington State.

CardinalscollegeCollege SportsStanford

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Health care workers would be the first group in the state to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. (Go Nakamura/Getty Images/TNS)
Hope on the way: Here’s what to know about California’s COVID-19 vaccine plan

The first batch of doses could hit the state as soon as early December

The Big Game was played Friday at Memorial Stadium in Berkeley. (Shutterstock)
Stanford blocks extra point to stun Cal, win 123rd Big Game 24-23

The 123rd edition of the Big Game featured a number of firsts.… Continue reading

Psilocybin magic mushrooms (Shutterstock)
‘Magic mushrooms’ moving into the mainstream

Efforts to decriminalize psychedelics could follow several different paths

The 2020 Census has concluded taking responses sooner than expected. (Courtesy photo)
What does California have to lose if undocumented immigrants are excluded from the census?

By Kim Bojórquez The Sacramento Bee If The U.S. Supreme Court rules… Continue reading

Those who stick around San Francisco on long holiday weekends can enjoy a slower pace, uncrowded streets and beloved institutions like cable cars. <ins>(Kevin Hume/S.F. Examiner)</ins>
These empty San Francisco streets: A holiday dream

We’re here because we can be, and because we have nowhere else to be

Most Read