Oct. 12, 2001
Trying to equal its best start in 15 years, Stanford enters the most difficult portion of its schedule as it faces Washington State in a Pac-10 matchup Saturday.
The 23rd-ranked Cardinal (3-0, 2-0) are unbeaten after three games for the first time since 1986, when they won their first four en route to an 8-3 finish.
Stanford has won five straight for the first time since closing the 1996 season with five consecutive victories. Wins won't come easy in the coming weeks, however.
The Cardinal's next four opponents are a combined 18-0 this season. After the game against Washington State (5-0, 3-0), Stanford faces No. 5 Oregon (5-0), No. 7 UCLA (4-0) and 10th-ranked Washington (4-0).
Randy Fasani continues to lead Stanford with steady, mistake-free play. He completed 11 of 25 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns in the Cardinal's 21-16 win over Southern California on Sept. 29.
"I have to go out and prove to myself that I'm the best quarterback in the country," said Fasani, who has thrown 10 touchdown passes with one interception this season. "I need to go out there and play to the best of my ability."
The Cardinal are averaging 36.6 points, plus getting strong defensive play. They held the Trojans to 13 first downs and 268 yards.
Stanford is ranked first in the conference in opponent's third down conversion percentage. Opponents have converted just 23 percent of their third downs.
"I don't think anyone gives us any credit, thinks we are any good," Stanford defensive coordinator Kent Baer said. "I'm glad they say it, it fires this defense up."
Despite its undefeated record, Washington State hasn't been able to enter the top 25. Critics have pointed to a relatively unimposing schedule which saw the Cougars beat Idaho, Boise State, California and Arizona by an average of 26 points.
Stanford is Washington State's first real test.
"I think we deserve a ranking," Cougars cornerback Erik Coleman said. "We are one of the best teams so far."
The three Pac-10 wins this season matched the Cougars' total from the past three seasons.
Stanford leads the all-time series 30-20-1.