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Stanford Cardinal vs. Washington State Cougars Point Spread - Pick

Stanford Cardinal (6-2 SU, 3-4-1 ATS) vs. Washington State Cougars (7-2 SU, 5-4 ATS)
College Football Week 10
Date/Time: Saturday, November 4, 2017 at 3:30PM EDT
Where: Martin Stadium, Pullman, Washington
TV: Fox

By Loot, NCAA Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: STAN +2.5/WSU -2.5
Over/Under Total: 54.5

The Stanford Cardinal come to Pullman to face the Washington State Cougars in a big Pac-12 game on Saturday. On Thursday, the Cardinal went into Corvallis to take on the Beavers, with a turnover by Harrison Phillips and a Keller Chryst connection to JJ Arcega-Whiteside salvaging the 15-14 win. They have one more road game, before closing their regular season with three straight at home. They face a dangerous Washington State team that is coming off a rough loss, falling to Arizona on Saturday, 58-37. With two losses in their last three games, they have lost their grip on the north division in the Pac-12, but a win here over division-leader Stanford would go a long way to restoring some of the luster.

The Pac-12 is a wacky conference where we have already seen a lot of strange results come down the pipe. So maybe by those standards, Stanford's comeback one-point win over the Beavers wasn't so unusual. Oregon State has been playing better the last few weeks and it's hard for a team that was without star back Bryce Love (questionable) to take on an improved team on the road and have everything go off swimmingly. It didn't on Thursday for the Cardinal and they hope for better this week, though they did get the win and that's what counts.

It's unclear if Love will return for this game, though keeping him out of last week's game could have been connected to the low esteem of the opponent. The game showed the offense is pretty flat without their major contributor. Despite missing the last game, he is still the leading rusher in the country. The offense was not up-to-snuff on Thursday, but they answered in the end. After the Phillips' fumble recovery, Chryst converted a fourth down on a big pass-play to Kaden Smith, before hitting Arcega-Whiteside for the winning score. It just seemed that even without Love, this offense was taking their opponent for granted. The line wasn't very spirited on the day and there was a general lack of urgency on this side of the ball. To beat the likes of Washington State this week, one would think a big dose of Love would be the right formula.

Stanford's defense has dealt with issues this season and they haven't always been that stout. But on Thursday, they were a key part of the win. In the last two games, they have given up a scant total of 21 points. With the offense laboring last week, we saw the defense take over a game, something that used to be a more-common sight when watching Stanford. With the offense not nearly as productive as normal, even without Love, the defense had to play a big role and they did. Phillips didn't just get the key fumble, as he was all over the field the whole game. Safety Brandon Simmons intercepted a pass, while Eric Cotton and Jordan Perez had sacks. For this game, they're going to need their big dogs to have a good game, guys like Phillips, pass-rusher Peter Kalambayi, and defensive end Dylan Jackson.

Again, this has been an even wackier conference than normal, with huge upsets and bizarre results seemingly every week. The Cougars looked to be on a real roll with their 6-0 start. To lose to the likes of Cal and Arizona is one thing, but to get blown out by those teams by a combined score of 95-40 is a hard pill to swallow for a Washington St. team that seemed on the verge of some really big things for a program that doesn't get a sniff of the big-time very often. And the defense, which had shut out Colorado the previous week, was filleted by Arizona. The Colorado team they shut out beat Cal by 16 points this past week, a few weeks after Cal beat WSU by 34. It underlines the lack of rhyme or reason with some of these results this season in this conference.

The Washington State offense is still a powerful one, but one that is a bit shaky, especially after an apparently-uninjured Luke Falk was pulled before the end of the half. Back-up Tyler Hilinsky threw for 509 yards, with two touchdowns and running in two more. Four picks were critical and kept the offense from establishing much momentum. Tavares Martin Jr. and ball-catching back Jamal Morrow combined for 21 catches. But despite having 19 more first downs than Arizona and putting up 646 yards on offense, they were never really able to take a hold of the game, with Arizona always getting the last word. It's hard to see where this offense goes from here with their QB, but as the Cougars were putting together a 6-0 record, it would have been hard to imagine Falk getting the hook this season and that's just what happened on Saturday.

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The big plays against Washington State were numerous on Saturday, with Arizona both making it happen aerially, as well as pounding the Cougars with the run game to the tune of 310 yards. With 35 second-half Arizona points, the defense wasn't able to figure much out. It's been a pretty inconsistent group this season thus far. In their last four games, they gave up 10 points to Oregon, 37 to Cal, zero to Colorado, and then 58 to Arizona. So good luck trying to figure what you're going to get from week-to-week with this group. They still rank high in categories like total yardage and in pass defense, but events over the past several weeks suggest a unit in decline.

With the way this conference has been this season, it almost makes perfect sense to take Washington State this week. In other words, whenever something makes too much sense, take the opposite. Stanford seems to be the far more-stable football team at this point. But Washington State is more-powerful on offense and if they channel it the right way, they should be tough at home this week. I see the Cougars offense getting it done at the end.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Washington State Cougars minus 2.5 points. Tired of your credit card not working for sportsbook deposit? End that problem today and bet the Stanford vs. Washington State game by signing up at Bovada Sportsbook where your credit card WILL work and where you'll receive a generous 50% sign-up bonus!

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