The talk around Washington is that the Huskies are back, and a top-15 ranking certainly helps that perception. Their upcoming game against Stanford stands to aid it much more, though -- this will be Washington's first serious test, as their victory over Boise State looks more unimpressive every passing week. At 3-2, the Broncos are no longer in the poll.
Husky running back Bishop Sankey will have his hands full -- as the nation's fifth leading rusher, he'll match up with Stanford's 21st ranked run defense, which is not as impenetrable as it was last season. Still, something will have to give, and his matchup with Stanford linebackers Trent Murphy, A.J. Tarpley and Shayne Skov will be worth watching all game long.
Rankings and records: The Huskies hold a 41-37-4 lead in this series, including an upset victory of the Cardinal last season, one of only two defeats the Cardinal had in 2012. Both teams are ranked in the top 15 of the AP poll, with Stanford leading the way at No. 5.
Three names to know
Tyler Gaffney (Stanford running back) -- The Cardinal have a productive back of their own. Gaffney averages 96 rushing yards a game, and leads Stanford with five touchdowns. Expect to see a heavy dose of Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson every time Stanford has the ball Saturday evening. Barry Sanders Jr. could also see some touches -- he looked good in action against Washington State.
Shaq Thompson (Washington linebacker) -- A versatile, athletic linebacker, Thompson will be tasked with stopping Gaffney and Wilkerson, but could do a variety of things against Stanford, including drop into coverage and blitz. He is a tremendous chess piece for Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox and currently is second on the team with 26 tackles.
Keith Price (Washington quarterback) -- In Washington's new up-tempo offense, Price has thrived, rebounding nicely from a disappointing 2012 campaign. His completion percentage is up 12 points to 72.3, and his yards per attempt is a career best 9.3, as is a sparkling 9:2 TD:INT ratio. Can he repeat those numbers against Derek Mason's defense?
Two things at stake
A win for Washington would be tremendous and a direct declaration of their intent to challenge for Pac-12 supremacy this season. The Pac-12 North was projected to be a two-team race between Oregon and Stanford, but Washington could go a long way toward changing those projections if it can pull the upset. This is the first of an incredibly difficult three-game stretch for the Huskies, though -- a home date with No. 2 Oregon follows this one, and a trip to No. 22 Arizona State is after that. There's no better way to start off with a win.
Stanford sees itself as a national title contender, but to play for the crystal ball, it will have to make it through the rest of its schedule without a loss. Washington represents the biggest obstacle to date for the Cardinal. A highly anticipated showdown with Oregon awaits next month.
How to witness
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET (7:30 PT) ESPN
Online streaming: WatchESPN. XFINITY customers can stream online here.