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Another Upset for Wazzou? Don't Think So

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Jeff Tuel is out and Conner Halliday is in, but Stanford knows a key to winning this game will be the same as last year. They must rush the passer. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images.
Jeff Tuel is out and Conner Halliday is in, but Stanford knows a key to winning this game will be the same as last year. They must rush the passer. Photo by Tony Medina/Getty Images.

Washington State University has arrived. They are unranked, but 3-1 with a win against USC. Their loss came by a touchdown to Auburn (who lost to LSU by 14). Washington State hosts Stanford this weekend. It’s a similar storyline to Arizona State/Stanford. Wazzou is a team looking to make a name for itself and has a pull-up bar in Stanford.

Wazzou has a signature win this season against a ranked USC team, during which they generated takeaways at key moments, throttled USC’s offense and scored just enough points to squeak away with a 10-7 win. So could that same game plan work to upset Stanford?

No.

Wazzou had a few luxuries during that game, the first being a quarterback competition. USC approached the game with arrogance, thinking this game was like preseason and they could test out two quarterbacks — and boy did that backfire. Humble Stanford has its quarterback situation set in stone with Kevin Hogan. Hogan has averaged a turnover a game, and those turnovers have come at inopportune moments. However, he and his offense have managed to average 36.6 points a game. So while Wazzou may force a turnover or two, they will not be able to keep up with the Stanford offense.

Stanford has averaged one takeaway per game, which should rise against the Wazzou offense. Quarterback Connor Halliday has put up huge numbers in every category, including an FBS-leading eight interceptions. Yet again, the opposing offense will test Stanford’s secondary, which has disappointed thus far as the 98th passing defense (in yards allowed).

The Wazzou running backs, however, likely are staining their pants. The 119th-ranked rushing team will face the Stanford front seven. While Stanford allowed 284 rushing yards to Army, the team allowed 35 and 50 yards to their other opponents, San Jose State and Arizona State.

The young offense has gotten better each week. Devon Cajuste (21.5 yards per catch) and Ty Montgomery (19.5 yards per catch) have provided big plays in the passing game. Stanford’s backfield in Hogan, Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson is poised and in control.

One final piece to the Stanford puzzle that remains is rushing the passer. Stanford, who still has the most sacks in the FBS since 2010, has not dominated the trenches on defense to the degree that I thought they would. With a Wazzou game plan centered on passing, Stanford likely will ratchet up the pressure. I know I use this too much, but it’s too good to resist. Party in the backfield, anyone?

Final Score: Stanford 37, Washington State 17

Follow Henry on Twitter @McKennAnalysis