No. 5 Stanford begins its 2013-14 campaign against San Jose State at home on Saturday, eager to get back onto the football field after winning the Rose Bowl last season.
The Cardinal, who ranked 11th in the nation in points per game allowed last season, look to build on a successful 2012-13 campaign. They only lost four defensive starters in the offseason and quarterback Kevin Hogan returns for his junior year.
San Jose State is coming off a 24-0 shutout of Sacramento State in Week 1. In the win, quarterback David Fales passed for 225 yards and two touchdowns, running back Jason Simpson scampered for 135 yards and a touchdown and receiver Chandler Jones posted eight catches for 130 yards and a touchdown.
The Spartans also held Sacramento State to 278 yards of total offense while forcing two turnovers in the victory.
Let's take a look at the clash at Stanford Stadium on Saturday.
When: Saturday, Sept. 7 at 11 p.m. ET
Where: Stanford Stadium, Stanford, Calif.
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Stanford -25.5
San Jose State Injuries (via USA Today)
Vince Buhagiar, LB, Out Indefinitely (Shoulder)
Stanford Injuries (via USA Today)
Ryan Hewitt, FB, Questionable (Knee)
Top Storyline: Will It Be Another Nail-Biter at Stanford Stadium?
You may remember that Stanford faced San Jose State in its opener last season, too.
That game ended up being too close for comfort for the Cardinal. The nail-biter was tied at 17 points apiece headed into the fourth quarter before Jordan Williamson's 20-yard field goal gave Stanford a 20-17 victory.
Of course, Josh Nunes was starting then, and Kevin Hogan is starting now. Nunes went 16-of-25 for 125 yards and a touchdown in the game.
Also, San Jose State lost some key members of its secondary in the offseason in safeties Cullen Newsome and James Orth.
Then again, star running back Stepfan Taylor is no longer with the Cardinal. He rushed for 116 yards and a touchdown against the Spartans last season.
Stanford outclasses San Jose State on paper this season. Of course, the Cardinal looked better on paper last season before the Spartans gave them a run for their money.
Whether San Jose State can weather its losses on defense will be the key in this matchup.
Prediction: Stanford 27, San Jose State 14
I don't exactly think San Jose State is going to be a pushover in this matchup—even with the losses on defense—but Stanford isn't going to take the Spartans lightly again.
Expect David Shaw's squad to be prepared to unleash on the Spartans on Saturday in front of its home crowd at Stanford Stadium.
While Stepfan Taylor is gone, the offensive line is still one of the best in the business and Kevin Hogan only figures to be better under center with some snaps under his belt.
I expect this to be a low-scoring contest, which probably describes how most of Stanford's games will go this season. But, once again, Stanford's defense will be the difference-maker...which probably describes how most of Stanford's games will go this season.