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Originally published October 14, 2011 at 8:02 PM | Page modified October 14, 2011 at 8:08 PM

Scouting report: Washington State vs. Stanford

Stanford (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) at WSU (3-2, 1-1) Time: 4:30 p.m., at Martin Stadium TV: Versus (DirecTV Ch. 603, Comcast Ch. 34, 626 HD). Radio Radio: KTTH 770...

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Stanford (5-0, 3-0 Pac-12) at WSU (3-2, 1-1)

Time: 4:30 p.m., at Martin Stadium

TV: Versus (DirecTV Ch. 603, Comcast Ch. 34, 626 HD). Radio: KTTH 770 AM.

The line: Stanford by 21 points.

The setup: Stanford, ranked No. 7 by The Associated Press, tries to sustain its push for an unbeaten season, possibly a national title. WSU hits the halfway point, hoping to move toward a sixth victory and bowl eligibility.

What to expect: Stanford has primo QB Andrew Luck, but complements him with a punishing ground game that ranks No. 3 in the Pac-12 (190.2 yards a game). The Cougars are more pass-oriented and seem likely to return to QB Jeff Tuel. He'll have to beat a Stanford defense that tops the league in both yards (302.4 yards a game) and scoring (10.6 points allowed).

Notes: Stanford's opening schedule has been kind; opponents' combined record is 10-19, and Duke (3-2) is the only team on the plus side. ... Luck, consensus No. 1 NFL draft choice for 2012, leads Pac-12 in pass efficiency (182.3) and completes 73 percent. ... Cardinal run defense allows 61.8 yards a game, second nationally. ... Stanford's red-zone defense has been best in Pac-12 — only eight of 14 scores, and six TDs. ... Early in the week, coach Paul Wulff indicated backup QB Marshall Lobbestael would start; by Thursday, he was hinting a return to Tuel, who has been out since Sept. 3 with a broken clavicle. ... WSU senior RT Wade Jacobson has been battling a back problem that could require surgery, and Wulff has said he could retrieve a redshirt year.

Key matchup: WSU QB Jeff Tuel vs. Stanford linebackers. If the Cougars are to make this a game, Tuel would have to be sharp on medium-range throws. He'll also have to avoid Chase Thomas, Pac-12 sacks leader with five.

Injuries: Stanford — LB Shayne Skov (knee), CB Wayne Lyons (foot), out; LB Alex Debniak (hamstring), questionable. WSU — OT Wade Jacobson (back), out; DE Lenard Williams (neck), questionable.

Upset brewing? Given Stanford's physical offensive line and balance on that side of the ball, it seems quite unlikely. Cougars' best hope would be to ignite their potent passing game and have it turn into a shootout.

Prediction: Stanford, 38-27.

Bud Withers

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