No. 6 Stanford Cardinal at No. 9 Washington Huskies (-3.5, 44.5)
Junior running back Christian McCaffrey ranks second in the nation in rushing yards per game but is somehow considered to be experiencing a down season as he leads No. 6 Stanford into a Pac-12 showdown at No. 9 Washington on Friday night. McCaffrey’s spectacular 2015 campaign in which he rushed for 2,019 yards and finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting has made his 145.3 rushing yards per game seem pedestrian but only San Diego State’s Donnel Pumphrey (199.7) has a better average.
McCaffrey aims to help the Cardinal defeat the Huskies for the eighth time in the past nine meetings and Washington coach Chris Petersen is well aware of who will be the best player on the field. “He’s great with the ball in his hands,” Petersen told reporters of McCaffrey. “Unbelievable vision, extremely explosive, and maybe as patient as anybody I’ve seen. Whether he’s returning kicks or handed the ball in the backfield, those characteristics just show up, and it’s a unique combination.” Both teams won their last seven games dating back to last season and the contest is the Huskies’ opportunity to show they are for real and not unbeaten just because of a soft schedule. Stanford won 15 of its past 16 contests and matched the school record of seven consecutive Pac-12 road wins (2010-11).
TV: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN.
LINE HISTORY: Washington opened this important Pac-12 showdown favored by a field goal at home and have since moved to -3.5. The total opened at 44 and has been bet up slightly to the current number of 44.5. Check out the complete line history here.
Stanford – G B. Fanaika (questionable Friday, undisclosed), TE G. Taboada (questionable Friday, undisclosed), CB A. Holder (out Friday, undisclosed), FB D. Marx (out Friday, undisclosed), CB Q. Meeks (out Friday, undisclosed), WR F. Owusu (out Friday, concussion).
Washington – WR B. Lenius (questionable Friday, undisclosed).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a nice night for football in Seattle. The forecast is calling for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the low 60’s for the game. There will also be a very slight 10 percent chance of rain and there will be a five to six mile per hour wind gusting across the field from the southwest.
WHAT SHARPS SAY: “Another pivotal top battle takes place in the Pac-12 Friday as the Washington Huskies host the Stanford Cardinal. Both are coming off narrow surviving wins last week. With a tight line to the home team of the Huskies will Stanford’s pedestrian ways payoff, or can the Huskies take a program step forward as the elite representative of the Pac-12?” – Covers Expert Zack Cimini.
ABOUT STANFORD (3-0, 3-0 ATS, 0-3 O/U): McCaffrey rushed for 436 yards and leads the Cardinal in receiving (12 catches for 119 yards), which led frustrated coach David Shaw to say “when this kid doesn’t get 300 yards of total offense, we say he got ‘bottled up.'” Opponents are crowding the line to stop McCaffrey as senior quarterback Ryan Burns (395 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions) hasn’t displayed the ability to be a downfield passing threat despite throwing the go-ahead touchdown pass with 24 seconds left to beat UCLA on Saturday. The defense ranks eighth nationally in scoring defense at 12 points per game and junior defensive tackle Solomon Thomas was named Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Week after returning a fumble 42 yards for a touchdown and also posting a sack against the Bruins.
ABOUT WASHINGTON (4-0, 2-2 ATS, 3-1 O/U): Sophomore quarterback Jake Browning threw 14 touchdown passes against two interceptions this season while helping the Huskies rank 10th nationally in scoring offense at 45.8 points per game. Sophomore tailback Myles Gaskin has a team-leading 302 rushing yards but is being pushed by junior Lavon Coleman, who exploded for a career-best 181 yards on 11 carries in Saturday’s 35-28 overtime victory over Arizona. Washington allowed a staggering 308 rushing yards to the Wildcats, which makes slowing McCaffrey seem like more of a challenge for a defense led by junior linebacker Azeem Victor (team-best 31 tackles) and junior safety Budda Baker (20 stops).
* Stanford is 4-0 ATS in its last four road games.
* Home team is 4-1 ATS in their last five meetings.
* Over is 6-1 in Washington’s last seven games overall.
* Under is 5-1 in the last six meetings in Washington.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The public likes the road dog in this Pac-12 clash with 64 percent of wagers on Stanford. When it comes to the total, bettors like the Over here, with 67 percent of wagers on it.
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