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Interactive Graphic: Previewing WSU vs Stanford

Get busy living or get busy dying. Let's explore how the Cougs and their bowl hopes can survive vs Stanford.

James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

First, my apologies to any that were hoping for or expecting a recap from me of the Cal game.  I was on vacation and away from internet, not (as it would have been fair to assume) crying into many beers at what was one of the most soul-crushing Cougar losses I can remember.

Also, I’m trying something a little bit different today.  There are two separate sections of views that break up the text. The first will look at explosive plays and total yardage amounts; scroll down beyond that to keep reading and find the rest of the comparisons.

As Ellis Boyd "Red" Redding would say, it’s time for the Cougs' bowl hopes to get busy living or get busy dying.  Let’s look at how they can survive.

Connor Halliday and the Cougar offense are 12th in the nation in plays of 20 yards or more, the Kevin Hogan-led Cardinal, 109th.  The Peter Kalambayi led Stanford defense is 1st in the nation in not giving up plays of 20+ yards or more, WSU stands at 116th.

The Stanford passing attack (where WSU has given up most of its big plays this year) has luckily been trending down every week since putting up big numbers vs UC Davis.  With Hogan potentially hobbled with an injury, the Cougs could cut down many of the big plays they've been hit with so far this season.

You can select the yardage amount to cycle through the different options( 10+, 20+, etc); the first tab looks at offense, the second tab looks at defense.

Stanford is really good at shutting down the pass: They’re 4th in passing S&P, giving up 4.4 YPA and a touchdown % of 2.2.  Halliday would throw for about 268 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions if he played to their averages.

While the Cardinal may have benefited in these categories by playing top 110 passing offenses in Washington (112) and Army (128), they also put up solid numbers against USC and Notre Dame, both in the top 40 in passing yards per game.

Part of how they’ve shut down the pass is by getting after the QB.  They rank 15th in drop backs per sack, getting to the opposing QB every 10.4 passes.

While the WSU offensive line ranks 82nd in the country in sacks allowed per game, they’re 20th in drop backs per sack given up, only letting the opposing defense get to Halliday every 31 throws (it's been 90! passing attempts since their last sack).

Part of me can understand why Stanford is currently sitting at -17 given how good their defense is; it is far and away better than any WSU has faced thus far.  However, I think that spread is a little generous given the way Vince Mayle, River Cracraft, Joe Dahl and company are playing.

As we are all well aware, the Cougs have lived and died by big plays this year.  If, and it's a big if with how inconsistent this team has been, the defense can step up and hold Stanford to their averages in plays of 20+ yards, the line continues to protect Connor and we can bust some 20+ passing plays the Cougs will have a shot.

Color Legend:

WSU: Passing is Crimson, Rushing is Gray

Stanford: Passing is Red, Rushing is as close to white as I could get with my options