Kansas State Wildcats at #8 Stanford Cardinal
Friday, September 2, 2016, 9:00 pm Eastern, TV: Fox Sports 1
Stanford Stadium – Stanford, California
Opening Line: Stanford -16
Current Line: Stanford -14 1/2
Opening Total: 54
Current Total: 47 1/2
Opening Money Line: Stanford -825 / Kansas State +475
Current Money Line: Stanford -650 / Kansas State +475
The Kansas State Wildcats travel to the #8 ranked Stanford Cardinal in the season opener for both teams Friday night. This is the first ever meeting between the teams. Stanford will play in Manhattan in 2021 to complete the home and home.
Kansas State was 6-7 last year in the Big 12 under coach Bill Snyder. The Wildcats lost to Arkansas 45-23 in the Liberty Bowl. Stanford went 12-2 last year under coach David Shaw, and won the Pac 12. The Cardinal crushed Iowa 45-16 in the Rose Bowl.
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Kansas State averaged 334 yards per game on offense including 176 passing yards and scored 30 points a game. The Wildcats allowed 452 total yards a game including 286 passing yards and 32 points per game. KSU was -3 in turnovers with 19 giveaways. The Wildcats averaged 39 penalty yards per game. K-State was 78/194 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 91/210. The Wildcats forced 38 sacks and allowed 35. Kansas State was 52/55 scoring in the red zone with 35 touchdowns and opponents were 44/52 with 34 touchdowns.
Jesse Ertz was supposed to be the quarterback last year but tore his ACL on the first drive of the first game last season. He is healthy and will be the starter in 2016. In fact, Kansas State was down to their fourth string quarterback by the end of the season.
Kansas State had to rely on their running game last year, but teams could just stack the box because the passing game was so ineffectual. The top three running backs are back in 2016. Charles Jones had 142 carries for 696 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 12 catches. Justin Silmon rushed for 355 yards on 78 carries with 2 touchdowns. Dalvin Warmack will also get some carries. Fullback Winston Dimel had 6 rushing and 2 receiving touchdowns last year.
Receiver Deante Burton returns after making 38 catches for 510 yards and 4 touchdowns. Byron Pringle, Isaiah Zuber and Denzel Goolsby will also get a lot of catches. Dayton Valentine will start at tight end.
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Stanford averaged 436 yards per game on offense including 224 rushing yards and 38 points per game. The Cardinal allowed 368 yards per game including 140 rushing yards and 23 points per game. Stanford was 104/198 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents were 85/217. The Cardinal averaged 46 penalty yards per game. Stanford forced 34 sacks and allowed 20 last year. Stanford was 54/62 scoring in the red zone with 41 touchdowns and opponents were 41/47 with 21 touchdowns.
The offense must replace four year starter Kevin Hogan at quarterback. He was a fifth round pick of the Kansas City Chiefs. He threw for 2,867 yards with 27 touchdowns and 8 interceptions and rushed for 336 yards with 6 touchdowns. Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns were locked in a tight battle to replace Hogan, but it looks like Burns will start. Cryst is the nephew of Wisconsin head coach Paul. Chryst played sparingly last year mostly in garbage time.
Running back Christian McCaffrey was second in the Heisman Trophy voting last year and set an NCAA record for all-purpose yards with 3,864 yards. He had 337 carries for 2,019 yards and 8 touchdowns, plus he made 45 catches for 645 yards and 5 touchdowns. He also added almost 1,100 return yards and took both a punt and kickoff for touchdowns. For good measure he even threw 2 touchdown passes. He is a Heisman contender again if not the favorite. His back-up Bryce Love is out with a lower body injury.
Receiver Michael Rector is also back after making 34 catches for 559 yards and 7 touchdowns. Francis Owusu becomes a starter at receiver after making 13 catches for 175 yards and a touchdown. Stanford loses Austin Hooper and Devon Cajuste who combined for 61 catches and 9 touchdowns last year. Tight end Dalton Schultz could be a star after making 10 catches with a touchdown last year.
Kansas State is 1-4 ATS against non-conference games and against Pac 12 teams, and 0-4 in Friday games.
Stanford is 4-0 ATS in Friday games, 19-8 in September, 40-18-1 on grass, 38-18 at home, and 49-24-1 overall.
Stanford is one of the top teams in the country and should roll in this contest. However, never count out a Bill Snyder coached team even when overmatched. I think the Wildcats hang around for a while but the Cardinal pull away late to cover the spread.