Washington State (1-1) at Stanford (0-2)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Stanford Stadium
TV/Radio: FS1; 710 ESPN AM
Latest line: Stanford favored by 2
WSU key players
QB Gunner Cruz: no collegiate snaps
RB Deon McIntosh: 34 rushes, 239 yards, 2 TD
WR Travell Harris: 16 receptions, 201 yards, 2 TDs; 3 rushes, 54 yards, 1 TD
LB Jahad Wood: 16 tackles, 3 TFL
Stanford key players
QB Davis Mills: 31 of 56, 327 yards, 1 TD, 0 INT
RB Austin Jones: 29 rushes, 109 yards, 3 TD
WR Michael Wilson: 10 rec., 130 yards
LB Curtis Robinson: 14 tackles
Is Gunner Cruz ready?
Quarterback was a question mark for WSU going into the season, but after two very good games from true freshman Jayden de Laura, any concern seemed to have been answered. But with de Laura reportedly out because of COVID-19, the position is a huge question again. Gunner Cruz, the redshirt freshman who threw for 9,383 yards at Casteel High School in Arizona, is expected to start for WSU, with sophomore Cammon Cooper next in line. For the Cougars to win, they cannot afford a big dropoff in performance at quarterback.
Force Stanford to throw
Stanford likes to take control of a matchup with a physical running game, then surprise teams with play-action throws. The Cardinal are much less effective when they get down early and are forced to throw, which has happened the past two games, when they were trying to play catch-up (unsuccessfully against Oregon and Colorado). The WSU 49-22 win over Stanford last season was the blueprint for success. Stanford rushed for six yards (yes, six!) while throwing for 504. That disparity happened because WSU took an early 19-0 lead, causing Stanford to abandon the running game. The Cardinal had just 10 rushing attempts for the game, and if that number isn’t much higher Saturday, Stanford is in big trouble.
Forget last week
The Cougars had a lot of reasons to think “what if” after last week’s 43-29 loss to Oregon. It was a game that was very winnable for the Cougars, and the outcome could have been much different “if only.” But Washington State needs to move past that against a Stanford team that will be very desperate, knowing any chance for a successful season is gone if it falls to 0-3.
Was predicting a Cougar win until the news on De Laura broke.
Prediction: Stanford 31, Washington State 23