2014 Stanford Cardinal College Football Preview
Head Coach: David Shaw
2013-14 Record: 11-3, 7-2 Pac-12 Conference
2013-14 Bowl Result: 24-20 loss to Michigan State in Rose Bowl
Odds to Win National Championship: +3208
Offense: 5, Defense: 7
Junior quarterback Kevin Hogan will try to direct the program into winning its third consecutive Pac-12 Conference title, but the offensive line has just 26 career starts coming back—something that Shaw must address due to the team’s reliance on a power running game over the years.
Stanford certainly has some weapons on the offensive end, with the biggest one being senior wide receiver Ty Montgomery, who is a threat on the perimeter and also in kick returns.
Replacing Tyler Gaffney at running back is going to be a tall order, but the trio of Barry Sanders, Ricky Seale and Kelsey Young were once highly-touted players that should be able to carry the torch.
The Cardinal returns seven starters from a unit that again led the Pac-12 in scoring defense, while also limiting opponents to a pedestrian 89.4 rushing yards per game.
College football handicappers need to be aware that the program is solid at all levels of its stop unit, especially in the secondary—a group that watched opponents go to the air a conference-high 554 times last year.
Senior linebacker A.J. Tarpley will be the leader of the group, as he ranked second on the team with 93 tackles a season ago.
There’s no question that the Cardinal will be tested at home against the USC Trojans in Week 2, which can’t be ignored when looking over the college football odds page, but they’ve also won five of the last seven overall meetings in that series.
Stanford’s going to have a hard time extending its streak of being one of just two teams to win at least 11 games in each of the last four seasons, considering they go on the road against Washington, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA.
Shaw’s been able to elevate the program since Jim Harbaugh’s departure from Palo Alto to the San Francisco 49ers, but I believe it will experience a drop off in terms of performance in 2014.
Stanford has dominated the trenches with its physicality in recent years, but the rest of the conference has started to catch up in that department.
A new face will represent the Pac-12 in the 2015 Rose Bowl.
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