Washington-Stanford Preview: An Unassuming Battle for the Lead in the Pac-10

Jason Figueiredo@sportschatterCorrespondent ISeptember 25, 2009

PALO ALTO, CA - SEPTEMBER 19:  Andrew Luck #12 of the Stanford Cardinal passes the ball during their game against the San Jose State Spartans at Stanford Stadium on September 19, 2009 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Who knew Washington-Stanford would be a marquee matchup? Certainly none of the experts saw this game as the potential turning point for either team to maintain the top spot in the Pac-10.

Both squads enter their second game of conference play unblemished, but only one team will come out with a little more hope of snatching away the Pac-10 crown.

The Huskies take their show on the road for the first time this season, and as all fans know, things always get interesting when comfort levels are tested. 

After the recent upset of USC, Washington has been flying high, and the celebrations in Seattle are only recently coming to a close. But if the “dawgs of the Northwest” aren’t careful, a holy hangover game could be in the cards

The Huskies have proven that they can win as a huge favorite (vs. Idaho) and that they contend as huge underdogs (vs. USC and LSU). They will now have to prove that they can match this intensity in games that are more evenly matched.

Washington will rely heavily on Jake Locker to get the Huskies offense moving as usual, but especially this weekend against a fairly weak Stanford secondary. 

Luckily for the Cardinal, the Huskies' running game takes the short bus to the stadium, so containing the ground attack with their front four should not be a problem. This should allow linebackers to keep an eye on the mobile Locker while clogging up any passing lanes down the middle. 

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While Washington’s defense looked sharp against a USC offense that was more out of rhythm than Elaine Benes dancing, this is no doubt an anomaly with what the Huskies have done on D throughout the season. 

The Huskies are particularly terrible against the run, allowing 154 yards per game, but their passing defense is hardly coming up roses, giving up 7.8 yards per attempt, which is the second worst in the Pac-10   

Toby Gerhart and Stanford’s massive offensive line have the power to go He-Man all over this subpar rushing defense and take full control on this game.

When Washington finally realizes that the run is annihilating them, bringing eight men in the box will only allow Andrew Luck’s accurate arm to find his boys in the flats, along the sidelines, and down the middle.

Prediction: Stanford (-9) 27, Washington 24

This is going to be a close game without a question. What it will come down to is whose offense will catch fire when it truly matters. 

Stanford appears to have more weapons on offense, and their defensive line has the ability to create havoc around Locker the entire day. Washington’s defense will once again face a formidable rushing attack but this time with a much more dangerous passing game. 

If they can’t handle the mixture of plays that Jim Harbaugh concocts, it could be a very long day for the Huskies. 

Game of the Week: Penn State (-9.5) 35, Iowa 14

Penn State hasn’t covered a spread yet this season, but that shouldn’t worry you money-layers one bit. 

Penn State has the stronger team on both sides of the ball, so don’t let the fact that this is a conference game dissuade you. The Nittany Lions will be out to avenge last season's 24-23 loss to the Hawkeyes, and this one could get ugly in a hurry. 

Jason’s 2009 Prediction Record: 2-4

(#) = Line at Caesar’s Hotel & Casino

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