San Jose Spartans at Stanford Cardinal
Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California
Saturday, September 3, 2011, 5:00 pm Eastern, TV: Comcast Bay
Opening Line: Stanford -26
Current Line: Stanford -30
Opening Total: 53
Current Total: 53 1/2
Opening Money Line: Stanford -5500 / SJSU +2750
Current Money Line: Stanford -10000 / SJSU +4000
There was good news and bad news for Stanford during the off-season. The good news was talented quarterback Andrew Luck, who would have been the #1 pick in the NFL draft returned for his senior season. The bad news is coach Jim Harbaugh moved across the Bay to become the head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. Offensive coordinator David Shaw takes over as coach for the Cardinal. Stanford returns enough talent that they are still a top 10 pre-season team and will compete with Oregon for the Pac 12 title.Stanford has dominated the series 49-14-1 including a 42-17 win in 2009.
San Jose St was 1-12 last year under first year coach Mike MacIntyre. Stanford was 12-1 last year including a 40-12 pasting of Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.
Not surprisingly for a one win team, San Jose St was awful on offense last year. They averaged only 317.5 yards a game including the second worst rushing attack in the country with 81 yards a game. The Spartans scored only 16.1 points a game last season. San Jose returns 20 of the 22 starters from last year but must replace quarterback Jordan Le Secla. Senior Matt Faulkner will take over as quarterback. Faulkner completed 21 of 39 passes for 206 yards, a touchdown and an interception last season. He is only keeping the seat warm for former Michigan quarterback Tate Forcier who transferred to SJSU but must sit out a year. Senior Brandon Rutley is the leading rusher. He had 129 carries, 461 yards, and 4 touchdowns last year. He also had 17 catches and a touchdown last year. Junior David Freeman will also get some carries. Sophomore Noel Grigsby is the leading returning receiver. He had 56 catches, 822 yards, and 4 touchdowns last season. Sophomore Chandler Jones had 54 catches, 474 yards, and one touchdown. Josh Harrison, Kyle Nunn and tight end Ryan Otten will also get significant catches.
The defense was just as bad as the offense if not worse for the Saprtans last year. San Jose gave up 464.8 yards a game and 34.7 points last year.The defense returns 10 starters and should be better led by defensive end Travis Johnson.
Stanford’s offense was one of the most prolific in the country averaging 473 yards and 40 points a game. The attack was balanced as well as the Cardinal were in the top 30 in both passing and rushing. Quarterback Luck finished second in the Heisman voting last year and comes into this season as the favorite to win the award. He completed 70.7% of his passes for 3,338 yards, 32 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. He was also the team’s second leading rusher with 55 carries, 453 yards, and 3 touchdowns. Barring injury he will be in the NFL next year. Junior running back Stepfan Taylor returns. He had 223 carries, 1,137 yards, and 15 touchdowns. He also had 28 catches, 266 yards, and one touchdown. Anthony Wilkerson and Tyler Gaffney will also get significant carries. The Cardinal must replace their top two receivers from last year, but Luck will still have plenty of weapons to throw to with Coby Fleener, Taylor, Chris Owusu, Griff Whalen, and tight end Zach Ertz.
The Stanford defense gave up 325 yards and 17.4 points a game last season. They ranked in the top 20 in most categories except for pass defense, and it was ranked #35. The defense was overshadowed by the explosive offense, but both were dominant last year. The defense returns 6 starters including linebackers Shayne Skov and Chase Thomas as well as safeties Michael Thomas and Delano Howell.
Stanford was 8-4-1 against the spread last year including 4-3 at home. The over/under was 7-6 in Cardinal games last year including 5-2 at home. San Jose St was 5-8 ATS last year including 3-4 on the road. The over/under was 5-7-1 including 2-4-1 on the road. The Spartans are 6-17 ATS the last 3 seasons including 3-15 on grass. Stanford is 5-0-1 in their last 6 as a favorite.
Stanford can name the score in this game. It could get ugly in a hurry if Stanford decides to go full throttle against the lowly Spartans.
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