The stakes have never been higher for Mike Leach at Washington State. James Snook USA Today

When Mike Leach was hired as Washington State's head coach, the expectation was that the team would be good enough to compete for Pac-12 North titles. Now, as the Cougars sit at 5-2 and 3-1 in conference, the team has a chance to do just that.

Stanford comes to Pullman this week ranked No. 8 in the country and as hot as any team in the nation. However, the Cougars have won three straight Pac-12 games for the first time since 2003 and are ready for the challenge ahead.

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"One thing coach Leach and coach (Alex) Grinch won't let us do is be on the high," said senior linebacker Jeremiah Allison after the 45-42 win against Arizona, according to The Spokesman-Review. "We celebrate the win but we'll get back to business."

With a win over Stanford, in a nationally televised ESPN night game, the Cougars would be tied with Stanford for the Pac-12 North lead and would hold the tiebreaker over the Cardinal.

The stakes have never been higher for the Cougars during the Mike Leach era.