2013-14 Stanford Cardinal Predictions and College Football Betting Odds
by Trevor Whenham - 7/14/2013
There are many signs that Stanford has moved into the established elite of college football. Most striking, though, is at QB. If the team was just a flash in the pan then the loss of all-World QB Andrew Luck would have been crushing. Instead, it only took half a season to identify Kevin Hogan as the QB of the future. Depth used to be a foreign word for the Cardinal, and talent was in short supply. It’s a whole new world.
I have a lot of faith in Hogan at the helm. He will have to learn to work with a lot of new talent this year, though. The running game and tight ends are both very crucial to this team. Running back Stepfan Taylor has graduated, and all-American tight end Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo both went to the draft. Ertz and Taylor have been the consistent engines of this offense, so their loss hurts. There are two bits of good news, though. First, the replacements are sound — Tyler Gaffney at running back and Luke Kaumatule at tight end. Second, and perhaps more significantly, with four starters returning, including all-American David Yankey who will be moving back to his natural left tackle position, the offensive line should again be about as good as any in the country.
Last year the defense was stellar, winding up in the Top 5 in sacks, tackles for a loss, and against the run. If anything, the unit should be even better than it was. The talent has returned, so it is more experienced, and the chemistry should be stronger. It is certainly not going to be any easier to score against them than it has been the last three or four years.
This is a defining year for head coach David Shaw. His performance since taking over for Jim Harbaugh as a relatively unheralded hire has been nothing short of remarkable. Despite the success, though, people have been slow to view him as a truly elite coach. He faces a challenging schedule and a minor overhaul on offense. If this team is again among the elite of the conference and the country then it will be hard to view Shaw as anything other than one of the very best coaches in the country.
Stanford Schedule Analysis
The Cardinal kick off their season with a very interesting game. The San Jose State Spartans have to deal with the loss of head coach Mike MacIntyre to Colorado. They have heavily-hyped QB David Fales at the helm, though, and he will be looking to get his season off to the start to keep the attention of NFL scouts. It’s a good test for Stanford heading into what could be a very challenging Pac-12 schedule — tough but winnable. They follow that with a game at Army that is all but a certain win. Then it’s nine straight conference contests before ending at home against Notre Dame in a game that has been very exciting in recent incarnations.
There are three conference games that are going to be straightforward. If the team can’t win at Washington State and Utah or at home against Cal then they aren’t the team many think they are. The other six games are very tough, though. They host Arizona State, Washington, UCLA and Oregon and travel to Oregon State and USC. The four-game stretch starting Oct. 19, which features the Bruins, Beavers, Ducks and Trojans, will be a massive test for this team.
2013-14 Stanford Betting Odds and Trends
Stanford is +2000 to win the National Championship, which puts them clearly and strongly in the second tier of teams just behind the true elites. They are the second choice at +375 to win the Pac-12 North behind Oregon but just the fifth choice to win the conference at +700. (All odds are from BetOnline) Stanford was a public team, but they still rewarded bettors nicely with an 8-5 ATS mark. They stayed “under” the total eight times in 13 tries.
2013-14 Stanford Cardinal Predictions and College Football Picks
This is a very good team. Unfortunately, they face a brutal schedule. With six big tests, it seems unlikely that they will come out on top each time. Of particular concern is the challenge of hosting UCLA, visiting Oregon State, hosting Oregon and then visiting USC in four straight games. That is an emotionally exhausting stretch of games, and three wins would be an admirable accomplishment. Overall, 10 wins is a minimum expectation, though winning the Pac-12 North will be tough. This will be a very good team with a very good season that falls just short of national accomplishment.
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