On Thursday, September 27, Stanford will look to remain perfect as they travel to Seattle, Washington to take on the Washington Huskies.
The Huskies are no joke; they come in with a 2-1 record—good enough for second in the PAC-12. However, Stanford will add another loss to that record because they're a more complete and well-rounded team.
The Cardinal offense beat out San Jose State, obliterated Duke's defense and won a nail-biter against USC.
While the Huskies won't be a walk in the park for Stanford, there are five keys to a Cardinal win against Washington.
Operation Stanford post-Andrew Luck is in full effect, and up to this point it's been pretty successful.
Quarterback Josh Nunes knows all eyes are on him, and he's delivered thus far.
He's completed 47 passes in 88 attempts—good enough for a 53.4 completion percentage. He's totaled up 615 yards, while tossing for six touchdowns and three interceptions.
No. 6 is no No. 12, but he's filling the shoes successfully.
The game against Washington will certainly rest on Nunes' shoulders. He needs to dictate this Cardinal's offense to the end zone on each and every possession, similar to their assault on Duke.
In that Duke game, Nunes went 16-30 for 275 yards with three touchdowns and just one interception.
He'll need a game similar to that one to notch a win for Stanford.
While Stepfan Taylor and the Stanford running game has been pretty much absent this season, they'll need to establish a run game early against the Huskies.
However, once Nunes completes passes to his receiving core, Washington will have to respect the passing game, opening up Stanford's run.
Taylor has 67 carries this season for a total of 338 yards—about a five-yard-per-carry average.
If he can gain 100 yards on the ground, Stanford will be in good shape and in line for an easy win.
Huskies quarterback Keith Price felt the wrath of LSU's defense, and he'll be faced with another defensive beast when he encounters Stanford's defensive line.
The Cardinal's strong defense has what it takes to keep Washington's offense off the field, while giving their offense more time for possession.
In Washington's loss to LSU, Price was sacked four times, and they only managed to achieve 183 total yards.
The Cardinal's defense will have to be on top of Price all night, and to be successful they'll have to force the Huskies quarterback into third-and-long situations similar to how LSU handled them. To do that, they'll have to contain him in the pocket and come with the outside blitz for the sack.
Doing this will force Washington to send out their punter and give the Stanford Cardinal another shot at putting seven on the board. If that happens often, we'll see a high score like in that LSU vs. Washington game.
Turnovers have the potential to make or break you—especially in college football.
Capitalizing and scoring points on turnovers benefit teams in ways you can't even imagine.
If any team has the potential to force turnovers and then capitalize off them, it's Stanford.
That's one of the best front sevens in the country and they showed it [Saturday]," said USC coach Lane Kiffin. "You go back to last year an almost all of them coming back. I know [with Shayne Skov] returning in there, they're even better than last year.
If Stanford can force Washington's quarterback into throwing the ball towards coverage, it should be a field day for the Cardinal's defensive backs.
The key to not only beating out the Washington Huskies, but also any football team, is to play your heart out for a full 60 minutes.
This Stanford football team has a ton of heart—evident from that USC game, where they were considered the underdogs by a large margin.
The Stanford Cardinal team will put the pieces together and play 60 minutes of hard-nosed football, and as a result they shall come out victorious—with a perfect 4-0 record—and move on to the next one.