Washington-Stanford Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated October 18, 2011
While Stanford's Andrew Luck may be considered the Heisman Trophy front-runner, Washington's Keith Price is making a name for himself with the second-most touchdown passes in the country. The Pac-12's two highest-rated passers will be on display Saturday night as Luck and the seventh-ranked Cardinal try to extend the nation's longest win streak to 15 games when they host Price's No. 22 Huskies. Luck is putting together another terrific season with a 71.3 completion percentage, 18 touchdowns, three interceptions and 1,719 yards. The 2010 Heisman runner-up was named the conference's player of the week after throwing for four second-half touchdowns in last Saturday's 44-14 victory at Washington State. While Luck ranks third nationally with a 180.6 passer rating, Price is fifth at 177.9 as he's guided Washington (5-1, 3-0) to its best start in 10 years. The sophomore has 21 TDs and four interceptions in his first season as a full-time starter, and the Huskies have won three straight to join the AP Top 25 for the first time since September 2009. "I think we've earned it," Price said. "We had a downfall against Nebraska (a 51-38 loss Sept. 17) but we bounced back and we deserve it." Luck and Price will take center stage in a matchup of two of the three unbeaten teams in Pac-12 play - along with No. 9 Oregon - and a pair of potent offenses. Washington averages 37.0 points, and that's the fewest the Cardinal have scored in any game. Stanford (6-0, 4-0) is playing its first ranked opponent, having gone 5-1 against Top 25 teams in Luck's career. "We have to get fresh because this week coming up is going to be the biggest week of the season," coach David Shaw said. "It's going to be homecoming for us." The Huskies were reeling after the loss to the Cornhuskers before Price posted a 74.7 completion percentage and threw 10 touchdowns to one interception during their first 3-0 conference start since 1997. Washington realizes that getting to 4-0 won't be easy. "This is the biggest game we've played in a long time," safety Justin Glenn said. "I think we know that. Everybody knows that. I think we're going to have to prepare really well in order to get this victory." Price will be up against a Stanford defense that is yielding 294.8 yards per game to lead the Pac-12. The Cardinal are allowing 11.2 points per game for the nation's fifth-lowest average. "It's going to take a lot of hard work to get the win down there," Huskies center Drew Schaefer said. "We're going to have to play smart football." Luck threw an interception on his first pass last weekend and the Cardinal led just 10-7 at halftime. He turned it up after the break and finished with 336 yards, topping 300 for the seventh time in his career. The junior wasn't a major factor in Stanford's 41-0 rout at Washington last season. The Cardinal outgained the Huskies 278-19 on the ground as nearly 20 NFL scouts showed up to watch Luck and Washington's Jake Locker, a first-round pick by Tennessee this year. Scouts will be watching Luck and Price this time, and the Huskies are eager to show improvement. "They've dedicated themselves to being a physical football team. I think we have as well," coach Steve Sarkisian told the Huskies' official website. "We'll find out how far away we are on Saturday." Washington will look to take the pressure off Price behind Chris Polk, the conference's second-leading rusher at 121.3 yards per game. Polk has averaged 46.0 yards and 2.9 per carry in two games against Stanford, which owns the nation's second-best rushing defense at 59.5 yards per game. Rattling Luck won't be easy since he's gone a career-high four straight games without being sacked behind an offensive line that was expected to struggle early with three new starters. Luck is 15-1 in his career at home, where Stanford has won 10 straight. Washington has dropped 14 of its last 15 road games against ranked opponents.
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