The Stanford Cardinal (No. 21 AP) are hosting the San Jose State Spartans in the “Bill Walsh Game” to open the season.
Both teams have a lot of shared history with the Hall of Fame coach, but only the Cardinal have shared the winning tradition he is known for over the past few years.
Stanford would love to continue that and get started on the right foot for another BCS campaign, but the Spartans could easily play spoiler right out of the gate.
Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about this contest, including where to watch it, who to keep an eye on and a prediction for the final score.
Where: Stanford Stadium, Palo Alto, California
When: Friday, August 31 at 10:00 p.m. ET
Watch: Pac-12 Networks
Listen: KNBR 680AM/1050 AM—Stanford, KLIV 1590 AM—San Jose State
Betting Line: Stanford -25.5, Over/Under 51.5 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
Key Storyline: Quarterback Play
Both the Cardinal and Spartans had a training camp battle for the right to start at QB.
Josh Nunes emerged victorious for Stanford and has the tall task of filling in for now-legendary signal-caller, Andrew Luck
According to ESPN, David Fales got the nod in San Jose. The Monterey Peninsula College transfer beat out Dasmen Stewart, Blake Jurich, Joe Gray and Jason Habash.
Both unproven young men have a lot of pressure on them to succeed now that they have been thrust into the spotlight.
We’ll see if they can handle it on Friday night.
Who Might Not Play for San Jose State (via CollegeInjuryReport.com)
TE Ryan Otten—Ankle—PRB
DT Joe Nigos—Knee—OUT
Who Might Not Play for Stanford (via CollegeInjuryReport.com)
LB Shayne Skov—Suspension—OUT
CB Wayne Lyons—Foot—QST
FB Ryan Hewitt—Ankle—PRB
BCS/Top 25 Implications
The Cardinal start the 2012 season ranked No. 21 in the AP poll.
That’s quite a fall for a team that finished last year ranked No. 7 after losing a thrilling Fiesta Bowl, in overtime, to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.
Call that the “Luck” factor, as bookmakers and poll voters simply aren’t giving Stanford any respect. The team still has one of the biggest and best offensive lines in the nation and is returning Stepfan Taylor, the senior RB with 2,770 career yards and 27 TDs.
People will once again start respecting the Cardinal, but it’s going to take a few early blowout wins.
What They’re Saying
Stanford head coach David Shaw finds the “Bill Walsh Legacy Game”—the annual game between the Cardinal and Spartans—to be extremely important, according to John Reid of the Palo Alto Daily News.
"I talked to my players Sunday about the affiliation Bill Walsh had with both schools," Shaw said. "I talked about what Bill stressed as a coach, being exact, being explosive, being fast. I talked about Bill's history as a boxer. He always talked about beating people to the punch, how important a jab was and staying on the attack."
San Jose State Player to Watch: David Fales
Fales will find out, quickly, if he has the chops to be an elite starting QB at the FBS level.
The junior QB has spent the last two seasons tuning his game at junior college, but it’s now time for him to step up into the spotlight.
At 6’3”, 220 lbs, Fales has the size to play the position, and he’s apparently got the tools as well.
Make sure to tune in and see if he can put it all together out on the field this Friday.
Stanford Player to Watch: Josh Nunes
Nunes is going to be under intense scrutiny out on the gridiron in Week 1.
He’s replacing the No. 1 overall pick in the 2012 NFL draft and someone who has led the Cardinal to consistent greatness.
Fortunately, this young man is able to make elite throws, read defenses and remain calm under pressure.
That’s exactly what Stanford needs under center now that Luck is gone.
Prediction: Stanford 42, San Jose State 10
The Cardinal are far too good to allow the Spartans to even keep this game remotely close.
Even without Luck—whose absence is clearly benefitting San Jose on the point spread—Stanford is simply too dominant to let the opponent in striking distance.
Last year, the Cardinal won 57-3, and you can expect blowout once again in 2012.