Five Pac-12 teams have winning road records this season: No. 5 Washington, No. 6 Oregon, No. 18 Utah, No. 24 USC – and Stanford, which sits at the bottom of the conference standings.
While the Cardinal (2-6, 1-5) has lost all five of its home games, including a game against FCS team Sacramento State, it is 2-1 on the road, with wins over Hawaii and Colorado.
It’s a continuation of a four-year trend – since 2019, Stanford is 3-15 at home and 9-10 on the road, including wins at Washington, Notre Dame, Southern Cal and UCLA.
The Cardinal looks to continue its success away from home Saturday at Washington State (6 p.m., Pac-12 Network).
Coach Troy Taylor couldn’t pinpoint why the team has played so much better on the road.
“You’re always kind of turning that over and trying to figure out if there’s something you do differently,” Taylor said. “We just tried to keep things as regular as possible.”
The last time Stanford was on the road, in front of a sellout crowd at Colorado, the Cardinal pulled off the biggest comeback in program history, overcoming a 29-0 halftime deficit to win 46-43 in double overtime.
Senior center Levi Rogers said that a key to playing well on the road is keeping a consistent mentality.
“Whether it’s home or on the road, treating those road games as a business trip and try not to be affected by the crowd,” Rogers said.
Washington State (4-4, 1-4) has a more conventional home/road split this year – it’s 3-1 at home and 1-3 on the road. The Cougars have beaten two ranked teams in Pullman, then-No. 19 Wisconsin and then-No. 14 Oregon State, though its previous game at Gesa Field was a 44-6 loss to Arizona.
Taylor has experienced the challenges of facing Washington State as a player and coach at Cal and as the offensive coordinator at Utah when it played in Pullman in 2018.
“Their fans are really into it,” Taylor said. “It’s always a tough place to get to… you’re kind of driving into a remote area. And then before you know it, you’re playing against an unbelievable football team that’s coming at you. They’ve always been really attack-oriented on offense and played aggressively on defense. Usually this time of year you’re gonna get some weather, which always adds to the drama. It’s a fun environment.”
The forecast for Saturday night calls for a light, steady rain and temperatures in the 40s.
Stanford’s only winning season since 2018 came in 2020, when it was forced to play four straight road games to end the season because of COVID restrictions in Santa Clara County. The Cardinal won all four to finish 4-2.
NEW ANNUAL GAME
Stanford’s conference opponents for the 2024-2030 seasons were announced Monday. It will face every ACC team at least twice during that span, and will continue the annual Big Game against Cal.
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But there was another wrinkle: In order to limit Stanford to three cross-country trips a year, the Cardinal will face SMU every season. Stanford has played SMU once before, in 1935.
The game will take place at Stanford in even years when the Cardinal goes to Berkeley, and in Dallas in odd years when Stanford hosts Cal.
“They’re a legit program, (and) I think it’s good for us to get in Texas,” Taylor said. “We’ve got a lot of Texas kids on our roster and we recruit that area heavily, so it’ll be good for our recruits to know that they’re going to play every other year in Texas.”
Stanford is already scheduled to open the 2024 season at TCU.