The 2016-17 version of the Stanford Cardinal football team is sitting right where they wanted to be after their first three games, with a 3-0 record. Last week the team went on the road for the first time and returned with a 22-13 win over UCLA.
Their first two wins came at home against Kansas State (26-13) and USC (27-10).
The win over UCLA was not without its tense moments for Cardinal fans. The team trailed by four-points with just over two minutes to play. From their own 30-yard line senior quarterback Ryan Burns led them down the field and into the end zone on a pass to J.J. Arcega Whiteside with just over 20 seconds left.
Stanford then sacked the UCLA quarterback and returned the fumbled ball for a touchdown accounting for the final score.
Next up for the Cardinal is an important game on Friday night against PAC-12 North rival Washington in Seattle. This will be a matchup of two Top-Ten teams as the 7th ranked Stanford team goes against the 10th ranked Huskies.
Both teams are undefeated with Stanford sitting at 3-0 and Washington at 4-0. The Huskies played their first road game of the season last week against Arizona and it took overtime for them to come away with the 35-28 victory.
This is the kind of game that Stanford Head Coach David Shaw relishes. It’s a game on the road, in prime-time and with possible National Championship implications. His team has played a lot of big games under Shaw’s leadership so he will surely have them ready.
For Washington, it’s a chance to make a statement and to get their team back into the national spotlight. In Head Coach Chris Petersen’s two seasons, the team won 8 games two seasons ago and 7 last year. The last season the Huskies had double-digit wins in a year was back in the year 2000 when Rick Neuheisel coached them to a Rose Bowl victory.
Stanford will be counting on their Heisman Trophy candidate, running back Christian McCaffrey, to have a big game against Washington. McCaffrey has been his usual productive self, having rushed for over 100 yards in all three games thus far and has scored 3 touchdowns. He’s also caught 12 passes, one for a touchdown.
Chances are that the Huskies will try to focus on stopping McCaffrey on the ground and try to make the inexperienced Cardinal quarterback beat them through the air. But that is also where McCaffrey can be dangerous so look for some short passes out of the backfield to him. Once he’s in the open field he can be hard to stop.
After this game against Washington, there are no teams on the Cardinal schedule who are currently ranked in the AP Top 25. But that certainly doesn’t mean they have a free ride to an unbeaten season. Tough games on the road against Notre Dame, Arizona and Oregon are still to come and regardless of ranking will be tough to win.
However, going into this weekend, Stanford is sitting right where they want to be. It will be interesting to see where they end up.
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