Stanford Game Preview: Spartans Face A Tall Task in Yearly Farm Visit

Jason Figueiredo@sportschatterCorrespondent ISeptember 18, 2009

STANFORD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Toby Gerhart #7 of the Stanford Cardinals runs with the ball against the San Jose State Spartans at Stanford Stadium on September 20, 2008 in Stanford, California.  (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

There is nothing quite as sweet as a tasty dessert right after a disappointing experience. It sooths any anxiety still festering in your body, releasing pleasure endorphins, and makes everything a little bit better.

Stanford’s dessert this Saturday comes in the form of a cupcake.

San Jose State, rarely considered to be an elite team in the FBS, has played this delicious role their first two weeks in an overly ambitious schedule. 

A Week One visit to the L.A Coliseum had a promising start, finishing the first quarter up by three and holding No. 4 USC to only two first downs. Then the proverbial poop hit the fan. 

The Spartans would eventually give up 56 straight points, leaving Los Angeles with their tail between their legs.

Week Two invited 2008 BCS Bowl participant Utah to San Jose and the No. 17 Utes would have a completely different experience.

San Jose State hung in with the ranked squad through the third quarter, clinging to a 7-7 tie. But, disappointment for the Spartans would be inevitable.

Utah connected on a 51-yard touchdown early in the fourth and took the lead for good. Despite a late effort by the Spartans, they would be downed 24-14.

As offenses go, San Jose State is about as one-dimensional as they get.

Their Kate Moss running attack is currently averaging 0.6 yards per carry and only 15.5 yards per game. This will be a breath of fresh air for the Cardinal front seven who were recently slapped around by the Wake Forest ground attack.

The Spartans will rely extensively on Week Two standout quarterback Jordan La Secla for offensive production.

La Secla split time in the first game against USC but took the entire load versus Utah. He is currently throwing at a 60.5 percent clip and has one touchdown and one pick under his belt. 

Stanford’s secondary, which was impressive at times against the pass in Winston-Salem, should be busy for the majority of the day. 

Anything less than a pristine performance by this wishy-washy secondary will raise concerns on how this team will fair against more powerful passing attacks down the road. Taking advantage of this feeble offense will be key.

Stanford’s offense will be confronted by a San Jose State rushing defense that ranks last in the WAC, allowing 296.5 yards per game.

This stat alone should cue the flow of Toby Gerharts saliva glands.  

In a game that saw Stanford’s pass to run ratio reach above 1.3, Gerhart, at times, seemed like the backup plan against Wake Forest. Despite the lighter load, he still rushed for 82 yards on 17 carries.

This week should be much different. A substandard Spartan defensive line and linebacker corps will open up several opportunities for gigantic runs, putting Gerhart in great position to rack up career numbers against this cross-town rival.

Stanford’s passing attack has the chance to have an extremely productive day as well.  

San Jose State’s secondary lost two corners to the NFL draft and are relying on their young replacements to learn in a hurry. So far, things are not going to plan.

The Spartan passing defense has given up 263 yards per game, allowing three touchdowns, and has yet to pick off a pass.

Andrew Luck's first game at the Farm is filled with exuberant potential, and anything less than a career day may disappoint.

Luck has shown constant improvement over his past two starts and if he can keep making the right reads, he should have an enormous outing against this shoddy San Jose State defense. 

Prediction: Stanford (-17) 33, San Jose State 17

Stanford should not have a problem completely handling the Spartans in their first of seven home games.  On paper, they have the better offense, the stronger defense, and their hearts are looking for redemption.

But a spunky group of Spartans that has been battle tested against much stronger opponents may force the Cardinal to inquire about the date this cupcake was baked.

Game of the Week: USC (-19) 35, Washington 17

USC recently named Aaron Corp the starter but that shouldn’t really change how this offense moves up and down the field. The Trojans will lean heavily on the run and won’t receive much friction on their quest for the end zone.

But, don’t expect this new-look Huskies team to go quietly. 

Jake Locker and the revived Washington offense should make some noise, keeping the game just outside of striking distance.  Hell, if they can do it to LSU, it’s quite possible they can do it to USC.   

Jason’s 2009 Prediction Record: 1-3

(#) = Line at Caesar’s Hotel & Casino


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