Earlier I posted a breakdown of the Stanford Cardinal. Here are three games from their schedule I am ready to see today.
One of the best games last season ending in triple over time and we get to see a rematch in the first three weeks of the season. Awesome.
These games have been pretty close the last couple years with the triple overtime finish and a two-point decision in 2010. Stanford came out on top in both of those games.
Roles are reversed this year as USC will be the ones coming in highly ranked. USC will be the team with the projected first round draft pick quarterback. USC will be favored.
This is one of those games that looks like it will be won on the lines. Both teams will be pretty good up front. USC will likely go after the inexperienced secondary of Stanford. The pass defense was a weakness for Stanford last season while the run defense was extremely good.
USC, with their quarterback and top tier wide receivers, should throw the ball all over the yard. USC does have some capable running backs, but the run defense of Stanford really will be that good. On the other side, Stanford should be able to run but I don’t know that they will get a passing game going to keep the defense honest.
I can’t entirely count Stanford out because of their defense. The offense should be solid enough to keep the game competitive for a while, but in the end I think USC will win another close one.
For some reason this rivalry game will not be played on, or even close to, rivalry weekend. Known as the Big Game, it has been played 114 times but is probably most well known nationally for the 1982 game where one of college football’s most memorable and recognizable pieces of film was ever recorded. The Play, as it is known, is an iconic piece of college football history.
Stanford leads all time, 57-46-11. Over the last four games the record is tied at two each but Stanford has won the two most recent meetings.
You have probably heard it a hundred times when it comes to rivalry games: throw the records out the window. That was the case last season. Cal went into the game having just earned bowl eligibility the week before. Stanford was coming off their only loss of the season. The line favored Stanford by 17 points. In the end, Stanford only won by 3.
With 14 seconds left in the game, Cal scored a touchdown. Stanford recovered the on-side kick. With that, the comeback bid was over.
Cal is a difficult team for me to predict. It seems like when I think they will do well, they have a losing season and when I think they will be bad, they have a winning one. I actually predict them pretty close to last year where they are pretty well in the middle level of the conference.
Stanford has had a tremendous run over the last few seasons ending in a couple of BCS bowls and only three losses in two years. A lot of preseason predictions do not have Stanford at the same level for this season.
Remember what I said earlier though, the records might not matter.
Oregon and Stanford were picked by the media at the Pac-12 media days to finish one and two in the North division, respectively. They finished that way last season. The two also finished the same way in the final standings of the Pac-10 conference.
Having these two play at the end of the season both frustrates and excites me. I want to see it now, not at the end of the year. But at the same time, having the two teams expected to finish on top of the standings play that far into the season, means the division may not be decided until the very end.
Under Chip Kelly, Oregon has six losses and only two are in conference. Stanford was one of them, but that was in 2009 and a lot has changed for both teams since then.
Both teams lost stars from last season. Since the media has picked Oregon over Stanford for the division, I have to assume they see those losses impacting Stanford more than Oregon. Oregon has won the last two by just over 20 points in each and I expect to see another 20 point win by Oregon this year.