Stanford vs. Washington State College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can the Cardinal Cover the Spread?

Stanford vs. Washington State College Football Odds, Picks, Predictions: Can the Cardinal Cover the Spread? article feature image

Icon Sportswire/Getty Images. Pictured: Stanford outside linebacker Gabe Reid

  • Stanford makes the trip to Palouse to play Washington State on Saturday night.
  • The Cougars have won two straight games as an underdog and will look to make it three against the Cardinal.
  • Check out Roberto Arguello's breakdown below and his top pick for the game.

Stanford vs. Washington State Odds

Stanford Odds-2 (-115)
Washington State Odds+2 (-105)
Moneyline-130 / +110
Over/Under52.5 (-115 / -105)
Time7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

The Stanford Cardinal head to the Palouse for a late afternoon kickoff against the Washington State Cougars on Saturday.

The Cougars have dominated this series recently as Mike Leach’s teams won four straight games against the Cardinal.

Unfortunately, these teams didn’t meet in 2020 after a COVID-19 outbreak for Wazzu canceled the game. Consequently, the Cardinal have yet to face the Cougars under head coach Nick Rolovich.

Both teams enter this matchup at 3-3 on the season and 2-2 in Pac-12 play and a win for either squad would be a big step toward bowl eligibility.

The Cardinal are coming off of a tough three-game stretch where they played what I believe are the three best teams in the Conference of Champions, going 1-2 with a win over Oregon sandwiched between losses at home to UCLA and at Arizona State.

The Cougars are riding high after consecutive upsets at California and at home over Oregon State, but will they make it three straight upsets on Saturday night?

Stanford vs. Washington State Betting Preview

Saturday, Oct. 16
7:30 p.m. ET

Stanford Cardinal

Stanford Offense

If Stanford wins and covers at Wazzu, the Cardinal need to run the football and finish drives better than they did last week against Arizona State when they scored just 10 total points on 10 drives that reached Arizona State territory.

The Cardinal under David Shaw have been known for their ability to run the football, but they rank 117th nationally this season with just 97.3 rushing yards per game.

Stanford running backs have averaged 4.95 yards per carry on the season, but they have had significantly more success in wins than losses.

In the Cardinal’s three wins against Vanderbilt, USC and Oregon, Stanford running backs gained 9.3, 6.0 and 4.5 yards per carry, respectively. In Stanford’s three losses to Kansas State, UCLA, and Arizona State, Cardinal running backs gained 3.1, 2.1 and 3.2 yards per carry, respectively.

Running the ball will be key again for Stanford this week as the Cardinal are shorthanded at receiver.

Three of Stanford’s top four receivers are out on Saturday with Michael Wilson, John Humphreys and Brycen Tremayne all injured (although Wilson and Humphries are expected back against Washington after the bye next week).

Shaw's personnel update @ WSU

K Josh Karty probable
safety Williams, WR Farrell, CB Manley questionable (Farrell & Manley practicing now)
FB Symonds, TE/DE Fisk, WR Humphreys out

WR Wilson, RB E.J. Smith progressing, hoping for return vs. UW

— Troy Clardy (@TroyClardy) October 12, 2021

Running back and receiver E.J. Smith also remains out but is expected back soon while tight end/defensive end Tucker Fisk and fullback Jay Symonds are also both out.

Nonetheless, the Cardinal got a breakout performance from tight end Ben Yurosek last week (six catches for 118 yards).

Emerging quarterback Tanner McKee has other capable pass catchers, including physical wideout and leading receiver Elijah Higgins, tight end Bradley Archer and running back/receiver Casey Filkins.

Receiver Bryce Farrell, who caught a 52-yard touchdown against UCLA and has track-level speed, is questionable after missing last week.

Stanford Defense

Stanford’s defense similarly needs to stop the run as they have struggled to stop teams with dual-threat quarterbacks this season.

Against the three most-mobile quarterbacks this season, the Cardinal have gone 0-3, but they are 3-0 against the less-mobile quarterbacks they have seen.

Limiting the damage that Jayden de Laura does on the ground will be key for the Cardinal defense so that they can focus on containing talented running back Max Borghi.

The Cardinal rank second-worst nationally (129th) in Rush Success Rate allowed and they are also 118th in Line Yards (although they did just hold UCLA and Oregon to fewer than 4.3 yards per carry each).

The Cardinal defensive line, led by senior captain Thomas Booker, will need to step up, especially without Fisk available at defensive end. Fisk is playing on defense for the first season in his fifth year and has surprisingly been more valuable on defense than as a tight end this year.

The strength of the Stanford defense is its secondary, led by cornerback Kyu Blu Kelly.

The Cardinal have had key injuries at the opposite corner spot from Kelly and at safety, but the Cardinal have had young players like Jimmy Wyrick, Nicolas Toomer and Jaden Slocum fill in nicely.

If the Cardinal can force the Cougars into obvious passing situations, the secondary should be up for the challenge.

Stanford safety Noah Williams and corner Zahran Manley are both questionable to play this week after each missing multiple weeks.

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Washington State Cougars

Washington State Offense

If the Cougars pull their third straight upset, it will be because they have success running the ball with Borghi and de Laura as they keep the Cardinal defense on its heels.

The Cougars have had success lately against Stanford, but that was with Leach’s air-raid offense rather than Rolovich’s run and shoot.

The Cougars have one of the most underrated running backs in the country in Borghi and Deon McIntosh is another quality back who will see touches. De Laura's decision making on RPO's will also be key for Borghi and McIntosh's efficiency.

However, the Cougars have yet to rush the ball well in Pac-12 play as they haven’t rushed for more than 3.8 yards per carry in any of their four conference games. Washington State ranks just 89th in Rush Success Rate and 87th in Line Yards this season.

Washington State Defense

If the Cougars' defense pulls its weight in an upset over Stanford, it will be because they limit explosive plays for Stanford and did a good enough job against the run.

The Cougars' defense will need to step up against the run as they have allowed two of their last three Pac-12 opponents to run for at least 6.5 yards per carry.

Per the Action Analytics team, the Cardinal offense ranks 17th in Standard Down Explosiveness, but they rank just 100th in Standard Down Success Rate.

If the Cougars can limit the explosive plays, the Cardinal won’t be able to consistently move the chains with three of their top four receivers out and inconsistent offensive line play.

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Stanford vs. Washington State Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Stanford and Washington State match up statistically:

Stanford Offense vs. Washington State Defense
Rush Success101116
Line Yards10999
Pass Success4787
Pass Blocking**10396
Big Play3077
Finishing Drives11271
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Washington State Offense vs. Stanford Defense
Rush Success89129
Line Yards87118
Pass Success6846
Pass Blocking**1370
Big Play4285
Finishing Drives8257
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling6393
Middle 83476
SP+ Special Teams6638
Plays per Minute11190
Rush Rate44.4% (117)44.8% (115)

Data via College Football Data, FootballOutsiders, SP+, PFF and SportSource Analytics.

Stanford vs. Washington State Betting Pick

The Cougars are coming off of their biggest win of the season over Oregon State while the Cardinal are coming off of an embarrassing loss at Arizona State.

I like this opportunity to sell high on the Cougars and buy low on the Cardinal.

The Cardinal's defense has struggled mightily against offenses with running quarterbacks, but de Laura has been reluctant to run the ball often since returning from injury as he has just five rushes for five yards in the last two games.

The Wazzu offense hasn’t run the ball well enough in Pac-12 play to take advantage of Stanford’s poor rushing defense and I like the Cardinal’s chances of creating Havoc against de Laura through the air.

Stanford has faced one of the toughest schedules to date this season and they will face a significant step down in competition this week after facing UCLA, Oregon and Arizona State in three consecutive weeks.

The Cardinal rushing offense, led by Nathaniel Peat and Austin Jones, will resurrect this week and take some of the pressure off of McKee. This will allow McKee to be more efficient as he connects with Higgins and Yurosek on play action in a Cardinal win.

While I don’t love playing short road favorites often, take the Cardinal 1.5-point favorites on BetMGM (with value down to Stanford -4) as the Cardinal offense will have more success translating yards into points after failing to do so last week against Arizona State.

Pick: Stanford -1.5

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