Stanford (6-1, 5-0) at Washington State (5-2, 3-1)
When: Saturday, October 31st, 2015
Where: Martin Stadium, Pullman, WA
Time: 10:30 ET | TV: ESPN
First place in the Pac-12 North is on the line Saturday when the Washington State Cougars host the 8th ranked Stanford Cardinal. The resurgent Cougars will be playing their biggest game in Mike Leach’s tenure in Pullman. Washington State started out with a horrible home loss to FCS Portland State, but have since won 5 of 6 with their only loss coming at California. They come in with the second ranked passing offense in the country led by quarterback Luke Falk. The sophomore is completing 73% of his passes for 2,885 yards, 26 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. In his last three games he has thrown 16 TD’s. Falk’s favorite target is Gabe Marks, who has 717 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns, including a school-record four scores in last week’s 45-42 win at Arizona. Washington State’s offense starts and ends with Falk, but the Cougars have rushed for 100 yards in three straight games and could improve on last year’s effort against Stanford, when they were held to minus-26 yards rushing in a 34-17 loss. The defense is very leaky, allowing 426 yard a game including 203 on the ground.
Stanford has been rolling since their opening week loss at Northwestern. They have won 6 straight and have scored over 30 points in each contest. A win tonight in Pullman would all but wrap up the North title as they will be heavy favorites in Pac-12 play the rest of the season. Quarterback Kevin Hogan owns a Pac-12 high 174.0 pass efficiency rating but has been overshadowed by emerging Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey, whose average of 259.7 all-purpose yards leads the nation. McCaffrey has five straight 100 yard games including a couple over 200. He ran for 243 yards and 4 touchdowns in a win over UCLA two weeks ago. McCaffrey also has 21 catches for 284 yards out of the backfield. Linebacker Blake Martinez averages 11.4 tackles a game to lead the defense, which has allowed a total of 9 passing touchdowns but faces its toughest test against Washington State’s Air Raid offense.
Ball control will be key tonight. McCaffrey and Stanford control it better than anyone and keeping the Cougars offense off the field would be advised. The Cardinal have a decent defense, but does have holes in the secondary that Falk can exploit. I’m going to say that McCaffrey has another 200+ yard day and Stanford wins and covers. It will be rainy in Pullman Halloween night which is great for the ground game.
Pick: Stanford -10.5