No. 15 Washington (4-1) at Stanford (2-3)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif.
TV: ESPN. Radio: KOMO-AM 1000/FM-97.7
Latest line: Huskies by 16½ points.
UW key players
QB Jacob Eason: 71 percent completions, 1,243 passing yards, 10 touchdowns, 2 interceptions
RB Salvon Ahmed: 399 rushing yards, 6.5 yards per carry, 3 TD, 99.8 rushing yards per game
LB Kyler Manu: 26 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 pass breakup
DB Elijah Molden: 22 tackles, 8 pass breakups, 1.5 TFL, 1 interception, 1 forced fumble
Stanford key players
QB Davis Mills: 62.5 percent completions, 597 passing yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
RB Cameron Scarlett: 413 rushing yards, 4.4 YPC, 1 TD
OLB Casey Toohill: 29 tackles, 6 TFL, 4 sacks, 3 QB hits, 1 FF
CB Paulson Adebo: 19 tackles, 5 PBUs, 1 INT
Junior quarterback Jacob Eason has appeared incredibly human during Pac-12 play, completing 60.7 percent of his passes while throwing for an average of 171 yards per game with zero touchdowns and one interception. But you know what? Stanford may be the solution. Through five games, the 2-3 Cardinal ranks ranked 127th nationally in opponent completion percentage (70.6 percent), 126th in opponent pass efficiency rating (170.60), 124th in opponent yards per attempt (9.4), 115th in passing defense (287.4 yards per game) and 111th in touchdown passes allowed (11). That all suggests Eason and Co. could break out in a big way on Saturday night. But it’s not all about the quarterback. Eason will also need to receive competent performances from his playmakers, such as senior wide receiver Aaron Fuller and junior tight end Hunter Bryant.
Costello or Mills?
The UW defense will meet a backup quarterback for the second consecutive week. Though, Stanford quarterback Davis Mills starting over K.J. Costello may not count as significant adversity for the Cardinal. In a 31-28 win over Oregon State last week, Mills — a former five-star recruit — completed 72 percent of his passes, throwing for 245 yards and three touchdowns. “Costello, he can move well. He runs,” head coach Chris Petersen said on Thursday. “But I think Mills is probably a little bit more of a (runner). But they’re there to throw the ball. They’re there to hand it off eight yards deep and throw the ball in the pocket. It doesn’t mean they won’t do a little something different. But I think they have a system they like and they recruit to that.”
Regardless of the records, Stanford does have recent history on its side. The Huskies have lost five consecutive games at Stanford Stadium, with their most recent win coming in 2007. The average score in those defeats, by the way, was 38-20. So the Huskies will be looking to snap that particular streak on Saturday night. And it won’t be easy, Per Petersen. “I always say this: every week, to get up and have that mental edge, that’s the challenge,” he said. “Because if you don’t, you’re going to get beat in this league. We’ve learned that. Our team does not look by anybody. I know that. You just hope that they can regroup, and I think some of it has to do with managing energy during the week so they can really play their best and peak on Saturday. But it’s easier said than done.”
This is far from your typical Stanford defense. The numbers say that pretty plainly, even if Petersen is hesitant to confirm it. UW junior quarterback Jacob Eason, who has yet to throw his first Pac-12 touchdown, should have more success on Saturday night. (Frankly, it would be alarming if he didn’t.) The rushing offense will add just enough, and a UW defense that ranks fourth nationally with seven interceptions (all in the last three games) will add a couple more in key situations against what amounts to a backup quarterback. In the end, No. 15 Washington will secure its first win at Stanford in more than a decade.
Final score: Huskies 35, Cardinal 20.