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Huskies face tough stretch

No. 8 Cardinal visit UW on Thursday

SEATTLE – The truly scary portion of Washington’s football schedule has arrived – and it might be even tougher than first thought.

The brutal stretch begins on Thursday night when the Huskies host No. 8 Stanford in a national telecast that will serve as UW’s first chance to erase perceptions created by a 41-3 loss at LSU.

After the Cardinal, the Huskies travel to No. 2 Oregon and then are home for No. 13 USC. That was thought to be the conclusion to the Huskies’ (2-1) difficult stretch. But it won’t get any easier with a trip to Arizona followed by a home game against No. 18 Oregon State.

That’s four ranked teams in five weeks for the Huskies to navigate and they’ll likely need at least one victory during that stretch to keep their hopes for a third straight bowl appearance alive.

And by getting Stanford first, the Huskies not only get a chance to rid themselves of the shadow of what happened in Baton Rouge, but also to get redemption for a 65-21 loss to the Cardinal a year ago.

“You never want to get embarrassed like that,” wide receiver Kasen Williams said. “You still have that bad taste in your mouth from years past. You want to get back at them someway, somehow and we’ve had to wait a full year to do it.”

UW received a little extra time to prepare for the Cardinal, thanks to its lone bye week of the regular season. When the Huskies wrapped up their 52-13 win over Portland State on Sept. 15, it was expected that they would be facing another Top 25 foe when Stanford came to town.

But the significance was ramped up later that night when Stanford finished off its upset of USC, vaulting them into the Top 10. The Cardinal pulled off the upset largely on the legs of Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 153 yards. And he’s someone the Huskies are very familiar with after he needed just 10 carries to run for a then career-best 138 yards last season, part of the 446 yards on the ground the Huskies surrendered.

“He’s not only leading them in rushing but he’s leading them in receiving. The screen game was a big part of what they do offensively,” Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said Monday. “I thought he was probably one of the bigger factors for them offensively against SC.”

While slowing down the Stanford run game will be a huge priority, almost as important will be protecting Washington QB Keith Price, who will again be playing behind a makeshift offensive line.

Sarkisian confirmed Monday that guard Colin Tanigawa will not play again this season because of a knee injury, although no specifics were given.

Tanigawa is the fourth offensive line starter lost since spring practice.