Final 2013 Record: 11-3 (7-2 Pac-12)
The two-time defending Pac-12 champions face the most uncertainty the program has seen since...well, 2012. Or maybe 2011.
OK, so taking change head-on and thriving is nothing new for Stanford. The Cardinal responded to the departure of head coach Jim Harbaugh after their Orange Bowl-winning 2010 campaign by matching their 12-win total in successor David Shaw's first season.
Andrew Luck left the following offseason, and again Stanford was faced with uncertainty. The Cardinal responded by winning the program's first conference title since 1999.
Stanford has a track record for exceeding expectations under Shaw, but 2014 will truly put the Cardinal's mettle to the test. They face one of the most treacherous schedules in college football, hitting the road to take on quality opponents Arizona State, Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and Washington—all of which they beat at home in 2013.
Stanford embarks on that most difficult of slates without running back Tyler Gaffney, the workhorse of the offense in 2013. Offensive guard David Yankey declared for the NFL draft, as reported by Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, which leaves a sizable hole on the interior of the line.
And then there is the mass departure on defense, with numerous upperclassmen having exhausted their eligibility. The threat of losing coordinator Derek Mason also lingers; Jeremy Fowler of CBS Sports reports that Vanderbilt is interested in interviewing Mason for its head-coaching position.
Quarterback Kevin Hogan must take the next step in his progression—a realistic proposition, given he'll be throwing to one of the conference's better receiving corps with Ty Montgomery, Devon Cajuste, Michael Rector and Kodi Whitfield.