PALO ALTO, Calif. -- In this Saturday's game here against No. 15-ranked Washington, Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan gets chance to show his value to the No. 5 Cardinal.
The Huskies beat Stanford 17-13 last year, handing the Cardinal its first loss of the season. And Washington looks like a better team this year, primarily because senior quarterback Keith Price is playing like he did as a sophomore, when he became a star.
Last season, Price struggled, in large part because he was constantly under pressure, getting sacked 37 times. Through the first four games this season, Price has been sacked only three times, the same number of times Stanford sacked him in one game last season.
Price did little against the Cardinal in 2012. In fact, the entire Huskies offense did little, using two big plays in the second half to squeeze out the upset win.
Stanford no longer has its two most productive offensive players from last year's Washington game -- running back Stepfan Taylor, who rushed for 79 yards, and tight end Zach Ertz, who caught six passes for 106 yards.
But now it has Hogan. The Cardinal's problem in that game was that it had no passing threat. Josh Nunes was the starting quarterback, as he was in Stanford's first eight games last season. He simply could not get it done against a Huskies defense that previously gave no indication that it was capable of dominating any offense.
Nunes completed 18-of-37 passes for only 170 yards and could not convert the big plays needed against a Huskies defense that stacked the line to stop the run.
The Cardinal failed to score an offensive touchdown that day. The offensive struggles continued until the ninth game, when Hogan replaced Nunes in the first quarter against Colorado and became the Cardinal's No. 1 quarterback.
"The biggest thing is the most obvious, it's Kevin Hogan," Stanford coach David Shaw said of the difference between this year's Stanford team and the one that faced Washington last year. "It starts with his mobility. He's made us a much more diverse offense."
Hogan provides the mobility, passing accuracy and field presence that Nunes did not. It will be up to Hogan to provide the offense that was missing last season in Seattle.
Though he runs less and has a lower completion percentage than he had last season, Hogan is throwing the deep ball much better.
With Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector providing capable receivers on the outside, Stanford now has a deep threat it lacked in recent years. That was on display in the 55-17 victory over Washington State on Sept. 28, when Hogan threw four passes of more than 30 yards, three of which went for touchdowns.
"Their guys can really stretch the field more than they have in the past," Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said.
The Washington State game was the best performance this season by Stanford and Hogan, who already has thrown more touchdown passes this year (10) than he did all of last season (9). Hogan needs to produce some big plays to complement the Cardinal's power running game to have success against Washington.
The Cardinal is unlikely to contain Price as effectively as it did a year ago. He is completing 72.3 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and two interceptions this year, a dramatic improvement over his 2012 numbers.
The Cardinal cannot let Washington running back Bishop Sankey run wild like he did last year, when he had 144 rushing yards, including a pivotal 61-yard touchdown run.
Stanford is riding a 12-game winning streak, which is the second longest active winning streak in the country. Ohio State has won 17 in a row.
If Stanford is to make it 13 in row, Hogan must demonstrate that he is a noticeable improvement over what the Cardinal offered against Washington last year.