The 2021 season hasn’t gone as Washington or Stanford anticipated.
The programs, which have combined with Oregon to win nine of the past 10 Pacific-12 Conference football championships, close out October on Saturday night at Stanford Stadium and enter the game with identical 3-4 records.
“I want to say we’re better than 3-4, but that’s where we are,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “We have to play better to win games. All of our games have been really close. It comes down to a handful of plays in the second half. We’ve got to make the most of our opportunities.”
Stanford lost two games in a row since a 30-24 overtime victory against then-No. 3 Oregon on Oct. 2. The Cardinal suffered a 34-31 defeat at Washington State before a bye last week.
The Huskies are coming off a 21-16 victory at winless Arizona in which they rallied from a 13-0 halftime deficit. Terrell Bynum made five receptions for 143 yards and a touchdown. Bynum had a pair of 51-yard catches in the fourth quarter, the longest plays from scrimmage by UW this season, to set up touchdowns.
“It’s been an up-and-down down season, but our guys have stayed together,” Huskies coach Jimmy Lake said.
Shaw said he sees similarities between the teams.
“The Huskies don’t have the record they wanted, but they’ve been in a lot of close games, just like us,” Shaw said.
After playing four of their first seven games on the road, the Cardinal play four of the next five at home to close the regular season.
“We knew we were going to have the toughest opening slate in America. We didn’t fare as well as we would’ve liked,” Shaw said. “We got through the first half, learned some lessons and now we’ve got a chance for some home cooking and to sleep in our own beds. Hopefully, we’ll play better in the second half than we did in the first.”
The Huskies have lost their past six trips to Stanford, a fact Lake tried to brush aside.
“So, this is about the 2021 season and the 2021 football team,” he said. “All these other teams in the past that didn’t get it done down there we can’t worry about that. We have to prepare this week to try to come out of there Saturday night with a victory.”