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Husky Football Blog

The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

September 25, 2009 at 4:41 PM

The pick — Huskies

So I actually thought I’d be a lot more of a lone wolf had I picked UW to win last week, which I didn’t.
Instead, despite that win over USC and some better-than-expected play in all three games this season, the Huskies seem to be almost a unanimous pick to get beat tomorrow.
Consider how the Vegas odds have moved this week, almost all a point or two in Stanford’s favor.
I’m actually surprised by that. When I saw the first line at nine — and then later at seven at most books — I figured it would come down to six or so. Instead, it’s at 8.5 to 9 at most places.
I don’t think this is a “lack of respect” or anything like that — I don’t think people who have money on the line think that way. Instead, it’s a skepticism over whether UW is really as good as it looked in beating USC — whether it can sustain that kind of play week in and week out and on the road — as well as a vote of confidence in a Stanford team that unquestionably has some valid reasons for optimism this season.
But this has been a weird series of late, the visiting team winning the last three, usually pretty dominantly, and I just think UW will have an overall edge in speed and athleticism — as well as an edge at QB — that will make the difference.
Some of you have expressed that you don’t like the way I break down the positions, simply by grouping and not against their opposing group — such as UW’s OL against Stanford’s DL. I’ve done it the way I have mostly because that’s how we do it in the paper and I feel in my explanations I can make the point that when I say UW’s QB is better than the other teams, that means in his matchup against this team on this day he has a better chance of success.
So when I broke down the positions, here’s how I saw it:
QB — UW. Jake Locker will have the edge over every team left on UW’s schedule, including Notre Dame.
TB – Split. This may be the most controversial pick on here given Toby Gerhart, but I think Chris Polk has shown he belongs in that conversation of best backs in the conference and he also has more potential to break a long one.
WR — UW. I hedged a little bit on this one after Devin Aguilar’s injury. And Stanford’s WR corps is a lot better than it has been with Chris Owusu (more on him later) showing lots of big-play potential. But if you consider Kavario Middleton a receiver, I just think UW’s group is a little bit better.
OL — Stanford. This is another real close call as the Huskies have been much improved up front and the Cardinal have already suffered one injury to a starter who won’t play today. But I think that in the matchup of UW”s OL against Stanford’s DL and vice versa, the Cardinal have a slight edge. However, I think Locker and UW’s speed at the skill spots will mitigate that.
DL — Stanford. Cardinal has a good and veteran DL led by DE Erik Lorig and DT Ekom Udofia. The Huskies are likely to go back to the grouping with Alameda Ta’amu at DT as this will be a game more about power and strength than was USC.
LB — UW. Donald Butler is playing like a first-team all-conference player and Mason Foster at least a second-teamer and I think UW has a speed edge here on Stanford.
DB — UW. I think Stanford’s secondary may be better than the numbers indicate and this is a close call, but just a hunch that the Huskies have a little more speed here, as well.
Special teams — Stanford A really big key to the game is going to be Stanford’s returners — Owusu on kickoffs and Richard Sherman on punts — and whether the Huskies can keep them in check. Owusu has two returns for TDs, Sherman one, enough to give them the pre-game edge here. This looks like a game where UW could really use a long return of its own at some point.
Of course, another key is whether UW can avoid the dreaded “letdown.” But the Huskies seemed to do a nice job of that once coming back from the LSU game to handle Idaho — which I think is better than advertised considering its won its two other games. The coaches seemed happy enough with the preparation in practice this week, which is as much of a key to avoiding a letdown as the attitude on gameday.
One argument I heard from some of you I agree with is the strength of the opponents the two teams have played so far — Stanford has beaten up WSU and San Jose State, each probably comparable to Idaho — but lost to Wake Forest. None of those, obviously, is as good or talented as LSU and USC.
The mitigating factor of that could be playing on the road even if this isn’t the most raucous environment in the world.
And those of you who have followed this space all year know I’ve been high on Stanford. But the loss to Wake dropped them a little bit, and UW has obviously taken some major steps since the start of the season.
So add it up and I’ll call it WASHINGTON 27, STANFORD 24.

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