The Cardinal, who debuted at No. 21 in this week’s initial College Football Playoff rankings, sit atop the division at 5-1 (6-2 overall). The Cougars (No. 25 and 4-2, 7-2) sit just one game back. With a loss, WSU would be virtually eliminated from the race; with a win, the Cougars would be virtually tied for the lead and hold any tiebreaker over the Cardinal should the Cougs be able to win their final two games over Utah and Washington.
As has been the case since Mike Leach took over the Cougs, the game presents an extreme contrast in styles: The Cougars with their wide-open Air Raid, in which they’ll spread out the defense with no fewer than three wide receivers and throw the ball on roughly 70 percent of plays; and the Cardinal and their smash-mouth attack, in which they’ll line up a seeming plethora of big bodies to run it down the defense’s throats.
The primary subplot is the situation at quarterback — for both teams. WSU returns to fifth-year senior Luke Falk, who was benched for the second time this season as he struggled mightily to move the offense against Arizona. Stanford, meanwhile, has moved on from senior Keller Chryst and will start freshman K.J. Costello.
The one thing the Cardinal will have to hang their hat on, though, is Bryce Love, who returns from injury to start in the backfield. He has nearly 1,400 yards on just 135 attempts; he has not rushed for fewer than 147 yards in any game this season.
Game time: 12:30 p.m. PT
TV channel: FOX
Stream: Fox Sports Go (log-in required)