Stanford Cardinal Odds to win the College Football National Championship with Expert Betting Predictions
Stanford is a model of consistency in the David Shaw era. They have won their division in four of the last six years, including last year, and they have won the conference championship game in three of those years. This year they are going to be in tough to add another division title because Washington looks good, but that didn't stop Stanford last year, and you can never count them out - especially when they have the best offensive player in college football playing for them.
2017 in a Nutshell
Stanford started their season with a heck of a road trip, humiliating Rice in Australia. There was a clear hangover as they came home and lost consecutive games to both USC and San Diego State. They shook that off, though, and won five straight conference games, with a win at a ranked Utah team being the highlight. They tripped up at a pretty good Washington State team, but then played their best football, beating Washington, Cal and Notre Dame in three weeks - Washington and Notre Dame were both ranked No. 9 when they lost. That got them into the Championship Game, where they lost a very tight battle against USC. And then they lost another tight one in the Alamo Bowl against TCU. The combined margin on those two games was just five points. It was a season that was a little better in total than the 9-5 record but didn't measure up to the best of the team.
Key Additions and Departures
K.J. Costello took over from now graduated Keller Chryst at QB after Week 9 last year and sparked the big late wins. He was banged up over the winter but should be healthy for the season. Highly-touted redshirt freshman Davis Mills will be pressing Costello from behind. There isn't a lot of depth behind that, but barring bad luck they are in good shape. Bryce Love is back and as freakish as ever. The depth is okay behind him, but it would be nice if they can carry more of the load so he doesn't get hurt like he did last year. The top two receivers are back, and there is some young talent ready to step up as well. Tight end Dalton Schultz was the only offensive player drafted last year, but the depth at the position is as deep and impressive as it always is at Stanford. The line returns five starters and has stellar talent behind those guys, so they are in very good shape up front.
The defensive line is reasonably deep but is short of top-end excitement - it'll be more functional than flashy. There is a good chance freshmen will get some real time. Linebacker Peter Kalambayi was drafted, but they still have a solid blend of experience and depth. The starting group in the secondary looks solid enough, but injuries have been a real problem back there the last couple of years.
There was one noteworthy coaching change that will have an impact. Mike Bloomgren has been running the offense and coaching the offensive line at Stanford for six years, but he is now the head coach at Rice. Tavita Pritchard, formerly best known as being the quarterback who was beaten out by Andrew Luck at Stanford, takes over as the new coordinator at the age of just 31. He has been on the Stanford staff in increasing roles since 2010, so the transition should be smooth.
Biggest Area of Concern
For so long Stanford has been known for excellent defense. Last year, though, that really wasn't the case. In fact, at key times it wasn't even average - they ranked 90th nationally in yards per play allowed. This year they return a fair bit of experience, but the level of talent lags far behind the offense.
Stanford Cardinal Schedule Analysis
They get a shot at revenge for their first two losses last year as they open against San Diego State and then USC. The latter, a home game, will be an excellent measuring stick for both teams. They get a breather against UC Davis next but then travel to an Oregon team that is tough to judge and then to a Notre Dame team that we'll know a lot more about after they open against Michigan. Utah comes to Stanford next, and they will be tough but beatable. It's hard to know at this point what the team will see next when they go to Arizona State and then host Washington State. But they know they are in for a brutal test - one that will very likely define the division - when they head to Washington. Things get much easier down the stretch as they host Oregon State and then head to Cal and UCLA. There are four games on that schedule that will determine if this is a forgettable season or a memorable one.
2018-19 Stanford Cardinal Betting Odds and Trends
The standout price for Stanford, obviously, is in the Heisman race where Bryce Love, at +800, is tied with Alabama QB Tua Tagovailoa, who has played one half of meaningful football in his college career and isn't even the named starter yet, as the favorite. QB K.J. Costello is also available as a Heisman long shot at +5000. On the team side, Stanford is the third choice to win the Pac-12 at +500, behind favored Washington and USC. They are the second choice to win the Pac-12 North at +350, far behind heavily favored Washington. And at +6000 they are tied with USC as the 16th choice to win the national title. The season win total sits at 8, with the "over" so strongly favored that a move to 8.5 would not at all be a surprise.
2018-19 Stanford Cardinal Predictions and College Football Picks
The offense is going to be good. The question is if it is going to be good enough to carry the defense. I'm not entirely optimistic. I see somewhere between seven and nine wins as the likely range, and I don't think they are going to be able to deal with Washington - on the field or in the division standings.
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