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The pick: Why Washington State will beat Stanford

STANFORD, Calif. – If you’re a fan of high-scoring games featuring offensive fireworks, then this probably won’t be your kind of matchup.

Washington State and Stanford aren’t blowing anyone away with offense. Far from it. Both teams failed to score 20 points in each of their past three games. The Cougars and Cardinal are tied for ninth in the Pac-12 in scoring offense (23.6 ppg).

My guess is we’re in for another offensive slog of a game.

The Cougars’ offensive line is on pace to surrender 45 sacks this season. Their running back room is depleted and their passing game has been inefficient in recent weeks. The Cardinal offensive line is similarly shaky. Stanford’s running back room is down to its fourth-string option and its passing game hasn’t been consistent enough to provide a spark.

I’m not predicting a breakout game from either offense when WSU (4-4, 1-4 Pac-12) faces the Cardinal (3-5, 1-5) at 12:30 p.m. Saturday at Stanford Stadium.

On offense, it’s a wash in my mind. On defense, however, one team seems to have an advantage.

The Cougars lead the Pac-12 in scoring defense (20.8 ppg). They gave up an average of 29.8 points per game in their losses. WSU’s defense ranks in the top half of the conference in every stat category.

The Cardinal sit in a tie for ninth in the conference in scoring defense (28.8 ppg). They gave up an average of 38.4 ppg in their losses. Stanford’s defense ranks among the conference’s bottom three in every stat category except passing defense.

Based on those figures, I’m giving the edge to the visitors, who will improve their winning streak over Stanford to six games. But don’t expect it to be pretty.

The pick: Washington State 22, Stanford 16