Stanford Cardinal vs Washington Huskies: Betting Odds, Preview and Prediction ColumnistSeptember 26, 2012

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 15: Dion Bailey #18 and Jawanza Starling #29 of the USC Trojans break up a pass intended for Zach Ertz #86 of the Stanford Cardinal at Stanford Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Stanford Cardinal are coming off a huge win over an alleged national title contender, beating USC again as an underdog.

Now they hit the road for the first time this season as they head to Seattle to play the Washington Huskies on Thursday night (9 p.m. ET, ESPN) in a much more favorable role for bettors.

"When Stanford is favored, they have been one of the very best bets in college football over the past few seasons," said football analyst Jack Randall. He pointed to the Cardinal's 16-3-1 record ATS in 20 games as why many Vegas bettors are siding with them.

Can the Cardinal keep their momentum going? Or is it the Huskies' turn to pull an upset as home dogs?

Washington has struggled in the underdog role lately, losing five straight against the spread, according to the database matchup report.

Stanford returned 13 starters this season from a team that went 11-2 last year. But none of those returning starters had the name “Luck” sewn on the back of his jersey.

The Cardinal then opened this season with a 20-17 win over San Jose State, but came nowhere close to covering the spread as 25-point favorites. The next week Stanford rolled Duke 50-13, covering as 16-point chalk.

Then came the big game with USC, ranked No. 2 in the country at the time. The Cardinal trailed 14-7 early in the second quarter, but then shut down the supposedly potent Trojans offense on their way to a 21-14 victory. Stanford held SC to 280 yards of offense, with just 26 yards on the ground.

In doing so, the Cardinal won outright as nine-point home dogs.

QB Josh Nunes, in replacing Luck, has completed just 53 percent of his passes. But Stanford is averaging 150 YPG on the ground this season.

With their three wins the Cardinal have moved up from No. 21 in the AP's preseason Top 25 poll to No. 8 this week.

On the other side of this matchup, Washington also returned 13 starters this season, including QB Keith Price, three along the offensive line and seven on defense from a team that went 7-6 last year. But there were holes to fill with the departures of RB Chris Polk, last year's top two receivers and MLB Cort Dennison.

U-Dub opened this season with a 21-12 win over San Diego State, but couldn't cover the spread as 15-point favorites. The Huskies then traveled for a character-builder, losing 41-3 at powerhouse LSU.

Washington scored first, but for the game managed just 183 yards of total offense and failing to cover as 22-point underdogs.

Then the Huskies beat Portland State (FCS) 52-13, covering the spread as 32-point chalk. But U-Dub played that game without two starters along the offensive line, and both those guys, Colin Tanigawa and Erik Kohler, are listed as questionable for Thursday's game.

Stanford has won the last four games against Washington. Last year the Cardinal beat the Huskies 65-21, rushing for a school record 446 yards.

Most college football wagering outlets opened this game earlier this week with Stanford favored by seven points. But as of Wednesday morning, the Cardinal had been dropped to -6.5 at most shops.

Free Pick: Stanford played wonderfully in its big showdown with Southern Cal, but now it's the Cardinal's turn to play the hunted. We'll go with Washington with the points for this one. (courtesy of