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First Look: WSU at Stanford

Time: 2 p.m. Saturday, at Stanford, Calif.

TV: Fox College Sports

Records: WSU (1-6, 0-4 in Pac-10); Stanford (5-1, 2-1)

Last week: Washington State lost to Arizona, 24-7;

Stanford did not play

Last time: Stanford defeated WSU, 39-13, in Pullman in 2009

The line: Stanford by 34.5

What it means for WSU: The Cougars have been competing for stretches in their Pac-10 games, though never long enough to have a chance to win in the final minutes. A big part of their ability to compete comes from playing tougher, being more physical for longer stretches. In Stanford, that physical philosophy gets its sternest test because the Cardinal pride themselves on being the toughest team in the conference. If the Cougars can match the Stanford macho attitude, it bodes well for the future.

What it means for Stanford: The 12th-ranked Cardinal remain in the conference race a third of the way through. Their only loss came on the road to No. 1 Oregon, a stumble that can be easily understood. A BCS bowl, while a longshot, is still not out of the question if Stanford can remain dominant through the rest of the Pac-10 season, starting this week. The Cardinal were 12th in the first BCS poll, a position that has to improve if they continue to win conference games.

Key matchup: Stanford offensive guard Andrew Phillips vs. WSU defensive tackle Bernard Wolfgramm.

Though Stanford relies on quarterback Andrew Luck’s passing considerably more often than last season, coach Jim Harbaugh still preaches football in the Pac-10 is won by men. In other words, the toughest team comes out on top. The 6-foot-3, 285-pound Wolfgramm anchors the middle of WSU’s defense and rooting him from that spot will be the top priority of Stanford’s guards, most notably the 6-5, 302-pound Phillips. If Wolfgramm can get a draw inside, the Cougars have a chance to put the reins on the Stanford running game – and chip away at Stanford’s tough-guy persona.

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