Big Tests Arrive Quickly for Well-Rested Cardinal
Oct 12, 2001
Stanford, Calif. (AP) - With a bye week and a postponement this season, Stanford hasn't been able to gather much momentum.
If the 23rd-ranked Cardinal are to get through their upcoming stretch ofgames, however, they need to turn it on quickly.
In a matchup of unlikely unbeaten teams, Washington State (5-0, 3-0 Pac-10)visits Stanford Stadium on Saturday to face the Cardinal (3-0, 2-0). Bothschools' experienced rosters have produced excellent starts.
'This will be a game for both teams to see how we do, as far as when itcomes to the national rankings,' Washington State coach Mike Price said. 'Oneof the teams will be ranked, and one of them won't by the end of this game.'
The Cougars and the Cardinal have been unexpected additions to theconference title race, which already was top heavy with outstanding schools. Itwill thin out in the next few weeks as the Pac-10's five unbeaten teams beginto play each other.
No one will feel the shakedown more than the Cardinal, however: Stanford'snext four opponents are a combined 18-0. After Washington State, trips toOregon and Washington are sandwiched around a visit from UCLA.
'I don't know if anyone has had a stretch like that,' Stanford coachTyrone Willingham said. 'It'll be interesting to see how our players respondto this challenge. The knowledge that we have to play all four of them at thesame time is incredible.'
The season has been pleasant so far for Willingham, who has the Cardinal offto their first 3-0 start in his seven seasons. With an experienced roster and asenior quarterback - Randy Fasani - throwing to a group of talented receivers,the Cardinal have awakened memories of their 1999 Rose Bowl team.
Stanford has won its first three games with an impressive offense. TheCardinal scored 110 points in their first three games, culminating in a 21-16victory at Southern California two weeks ago.
Fasani, who struggled with injuries throughout last season, has thrown for721 yards, 10 TDs and just one interception this fall. In the past two years,Stanford is 8-3 when Fasani starts, scoring nearly 32 points per game.
But Washington State has proven to be just as offensively talented. Led bysenior quarterback Jason Gesser and an impressive group of receivers, theCougars have scored 210 points in five games.
Price hasn't won at Stanford Stadium, and the Cardinal's rapidly maturingdefensive secondary - as well as the wacky Stanford Marching Band - concernhim.
'I'm 0-5. We haven't played well (at Stanford) ever, and I don't knowwhy,' Price said. 'It has something to do with who we play, I guess. Maybeit's the band. I love that band. I don't like the team too much.'
Price said his planning for the entire season was affected by the amicabledeparture of offensive coordinator John McDonell, who's now coaching theCardinal's offensive line after spending a dozen seasons in Pullman. Pricerattled off a list of big and small aspects of his preparation that have beenaltered.
'I love John McDonell to death, but he's got 12 of my playbooks,' Pricesaid. 'They know what we're doing, so we've had to change.'
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer