What to observe for when No. 18 Washington opens Pac-12 play in opposition to Stanford, plus Mike Vorel’s prediction

Stanford (1-1) at No. 18 Washington (3-0)
7:30 p.m. Saturday, Husky Stadium

TV: FS1 Radio: Sports activitiesRadio 93.3-FM KJR

Latest line: Huskies by 13.5

UW key gamers

QB Michael Penix Jr.: 66% completions, 1,079 passing yards, 10 move TD, 1 INT

WR Ja’Lynn Polk: 12 catches, 245 yards, 20.4 yards per reception, 4 TD

LB Alphonzo Tuputala: 17 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack

S Kamren Fabiculanan: 11 tackles, 1 move breakup

Stanford key gamers

QB Tanner McKee: 67.7% completions, 528 passing yards, 3 move TD, 3 INT, 1 rush TD

WR Michael Wilson: 7 catches, 112 yards, 16 yards per reception, 2 TD

LB Levani Damuni: 16 tackles, 1 move breakup, 1 QB hit

S Patrick Fields: 11 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 TFL

Avoiding the letdown

The final 4 occasions Washington has been ranked within the Associated Press high 25 ballot, the Huskies instantly misplaced the next week. Oh, and two of these 4 losses got here in opposition to Stanford, in 2019 and 2020. Which isn’t to say Washington gained’t roll over Stanford on Saturday. But the Huskies can’t think about this a cupcake sport, both. Despite dropping 41-28 to No. 7 USC on Sept. 10, Stanford — which can also be coming off a bye — truly gained 9 extra first downs than the Trojans (33-24). The Cardinal rushed for a whopping 221 yards, 4.9 yards per carry and three touchdowns as properly. Two of their drives resulted in turnovers on the Trojans’ 2-yard line, offering a considerably misleading remaining rating. And their quarterback, Tanner McKee, has caught the attention of NFL scouts. So sure, the Huskies are favored to win right here — and rightly so. But Stanford deserves, and requires, their full consideration.

Containing McKee

Speaking of McKee, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound junior accomplished 65.4% of his passes and threw for two,327 yards with 19 complete touchdowns and 7 interceptions final season. He’s gotten off to a little bit of a gradual begin this fall, with three touchdowns and three interceptions in his first two video games. Even so, Stanford’s teaching employees — which, let’s repeat, is coming off a bye — will undoubtedly see that Michigan State’s Payton Thorne torched the Husky secondary for 71.4% completions, 323 passing yards and three touchdowns (in addition to an interception) final weekend. That secondary should still be lacking beginning security Asa Turner and cornerbacks Jordan Perryman and Elijah Jackson on Saturday as properly. Stanford’s dashing assault will at all times be the main target, however count on McKee and Co. to take copious photographs at a shaky secondary. To assist out that group, the Huskies’ move rush must get residence.

Protecting Penix

The good news? Stanford’s move protection surrendered 74% completions, 341 passing yards and 4 touchdowns to Caleb Williams and Co. two weeks in the past. But Williams was additionally sacked 3 times. If UW quarterback Michael Penix Jr. — who has not been sacked in his first three video games — stays upright, the Stanford secondary ought to be overmatched. That’s due additionally to a large receiver corps that includes a slew of succesful targets in Jalen McMillan, Ja’Lynn Polk, Rome Odunze, Giles Jackson and Taj Davis. Tight ends Devin Culp and Jack Westover have been productive move catchers as properly. The Huskies’ sheer number of choices makes it troublesome for defenses to match up. But Penix is the engine that makes the entire thing transfer. If he’s on his sport, good luck.

Vorel’s prediction

As acknowledged above, there are causes to fret. UW has not responded properly to a nationwide rating during the last a number of years, and Stanford — with a bye week at its again — could also be higher than its most up-to-date loss suggests. This isn’t, and shouldn’t be, a 30-point unfold. And but, this can be a new period at Washington — and coach Kalen DeBoer has earned the complete focus and confidence of a proficient workforce. UW’s offense is designed and ready to choose aside Stanford’s secondary, and Penix and Co. will do exactly that. The Huskies will successfully stuff the run for a second consecutive sport, and the protection will pressure a turnover or two to extinguish Cardinal momentum. McKee could have some success, however similar as Thorne, these contributions will solely get Stanford to this point. No. 18 Washington will get a house win to kick off Pac-12 play.

Final rating: Huskies 41, Cardinal 27

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