When/where: Friday, 6 p.m., Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California
Records: WSU (2-4, 1-2 Pac-12); Stanford (3-2, 1-1 Pac-12)
Last time: Stanford defeated Washington State 55-17 in Seattle (2013)
What it means for WSU: The Cougars lost last week despite arguably the best passing performance in college football history when Connor Halliday set an FBS record with 734 passing yards while throwing for six touchdowns and no interceptions. The WSU passing offense has looked great so far but it hasn’t faced a defense like Stanford yet. If Halliday and Co. can keep up the torrid passing pace against the Cardinal defense then WSU should be able to score plenty against any team left on the schedule.
What it means for Stanford: The Cardinal are in the unusual position of having likely already played itself out of the national championship picture in early October. With two early losses, Stanford is barely holding onto a spot in the rankings, to say nothing of the usually lofty spot it holds in the national perception. There is still time for the Cardinal to show that it’s an elite team, but there won’t be if it loses at home to WSU.
Key matchup: WSU punt coverage vs. Ty Montgomery
The Cougars have given up three special teams touchdowns in the last two weeks and now they’ll face one of the nation’s best return men the same week their special teams coordinator was dismissed. Whichever WSU assistant takes over punt coverage for the rest of the season will have to work quickly to get his unit prepared to face Montgomery, who averages 21.8 yards per return.