First of all, we should start with this disclaimer: Sports betting trends should always be taken with a skeptical eye, especially when they involve a very limited sample size.
In this case, it’s an extremely limited sample size. But we thought it was still worth sharing, so here goes.
During his still-short tenure as Washington head coach, Steve Sarkisian has been very impressive with extra time to prepare. Including bye weeks and bowl games, Sarkisian is 6-1 against the spread with extra time. That includes three covers as underdogs, two of which were outright wins as 9- and 11.5-point dogs.
The only failure to cover came in last year’s Alamo Bowl, when Baylor defeated Washington 67-56 as 9.5-point favorites.
In all, Sarkisian has beaten the spread by 9.6 points per game.
WHY IT’S (SOMEWHAT) RELEVANT
The Huskies, of course, are coming off a bye week leading into their Thursday night showdown against Pac-12 North rival Stanford, a team that has absolutely humiliated them over the past three seasons. The Cardinal are currently 7-point favorites, and SportsInsights—a fantastic tool for any sports bettor—says about two-thirds of bettors are expecting them to cover that spread.
The problem for Washington? First, Stanford is also coming off a bye week, which inherently negates some of the advantage. Second, on paper, this appears to be another mismatch.
The average score of this matchup in Sarkisian’s previous three meetings has been 47-12, and the Cardinal have racked up an average of 348 rushing yards, including a school-record 446 in a 65-21 blowout last year.
Stanford routinely steamrolls right over the undersized Huskies, and they can do nothing to stop it.
New Washington defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox—from Tennessee—was brought in to fix the defense, but that remains a work in progress. Stanford’s five offensive linemen weigh an average of 297 pounds, while Washington’s front four on defense averages only 271 pounds. (And it’s only that high because of 330-pound defensive tackle Alameda Ta’amu.)
This year, the Cardinal rank No. 1 nationally in run defense, allowing only 41.3 yards per game. They’re tied for third with 9.7 tackles for loss per game. The front seven is among the nation’s best, and it’ll look to take advantage of a banged-up Washington offensive line that has only one starter with much experience.
Stanford quarterback Josh Nunes will be making his first-ever road start, and it’s absolutely essential that Washington shuts down the ground game and forces the youngster to make plays.
Basically, it’s a good thing that Sarkisian knows how to use his extra time wisely.
It looks like he’s going to need it.