Stanford a favorite for a change against Cougars Print
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Saturday, 01 November 2008 08:16
NCAAF Headline News

 STANFORD, Calif. (AP) -Stanford isn't quite used to being a commanding favorite.
On Saturday against Washington State, Stanford is expected to win by 30 against a Cougars team that has given up over 60 points in four of its five Pac-10 games - including the worst defeat in school history, 69-0 to Southern California in its last game two weeks ago.
eally put a finger on it, because if you could you'd win more.''
The Cardinal (4-4, 3-2) are 3-0 at home and have a four-game winning streak in Stanford Stadium dating to last season. They know they need two victories in their last four games to become bowl eligible in coach Jim Harbaugh's second season. Washington State has won the last four meetings at Stanford dating to 1999.
Both teams are coming off their bye weeks at a time when they each wanted to put their past games behind them. Stanford suffered a demoralizing 23-20 loss to UCLA on Oct. 18 and has had too much time to think about it, while the Cougars are still stinging from the blowout to the Trojans.
Everybody is eager to get back on the field.
In fact, it could be freshman J.T. Levenseller's first chance all season. The backup quarterback, who was being held out as a redshirt, will get a chance to play down the stretch for Washington State (1-7, 0-5).
Kevin Lopina will start, but coach Paul Wulff plans to use Levenseller. He would be the fifth quarterback to play this season for the Cougars, who have been beat up at the position.
First, the Cougars' defense will have to make plays and get off the field. Wulff points to his team's offensive problems for a good chunk of the points the Cougars have surrendered. Mistakes, turnovers, punts.
ey need to be exactly and play with a little bit more energy,'' Wulff said. ``Our defense has had their backs against the wall all year long because of our inability on offense to have a lot of success. We haven't been strong enough against really good football teams to hold up.
``It is disappointing that we've lost some energy and confidence and faith in each other to step up and make plays. The offense will turn the ball over or punt after a three-and-out and the defense doesn't have enough fight in them to keep battling.''
The big task for the Cougars' defense will be slowing down running back Toby Gerhart, who has five 100-yard rushing games this year. Gerhard needs 221 yards in the final four contests to become the Cardinal's first player to reach 1,000 in a season since Tommy Vardell ran for a school-record 1,084 yards in 1991.
Gerhart realizes reaching the milestone Saturday would be a big day - especially if it's raining as is expected this weekend.
``That's my goal,'' he said, chuckling. ``The win's more important than anything. That'd be nice.''
Harbaugh focused on improving the passing game as well as pass defense during the bye week, getting more aggressive on both sides of the ball by running stronger routes and being more physical.
Cleaner play, period.
``The first thing is to understand the kind of team we are - a physical team,'' Harbaugh said. ``What the goal is, is zero turnovers, zero missed assignments, zero penalties. That's thinking more as a football team.''
 

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