Four (Not So) Preposterous Predictions: Arizona

Otto Greule Jr - Getty Images

Stanford needs to bounce back today against Arizona. Will the Cardinal accomplish any of these predictions?

1. Stepfan Taylor will run for over 150 yards.

Why it's preposterous: Stanford has failed to total 100 rushing yards as a team in two of its past three games, and Taylor himself has eclipsed the 150-yard mark just three times in his career. The Cardinal's rushing offense is 92nd in the nation and has not looked anything like the group that dominated for the past few seasons. On the other side, even in a blowout, De'Anthony Thomas and Kenjon Barner combined for fewer than 150 rushing yards against the Arizona defense.

Why it's not: Arizona's rushing defense is beatable. Storm Woods rushed for 161 yards last week in Tucson, and the Wildcats average giving up 166.8 rushing yards per game. Taylor has switched from being the most-used member of the running back committee to being "the back" in Stanford's system, as he has accounted for over 80 percent of the team's rushing yards. The Cardinal seems poised to rebound offensively at home, and you can bet the coaching staff wants the ball in Taylor's hands.

2. Stanford will force four more turnovers than Arizona.

Why it's preposterous: Four turnovers is a lot for a college game. Especially since Stanford lost the turnover battle last week against Washington. In fact, the only time either of these teams forced four more turnovers than it lost was Arizona in a win over Oklahoma State. Stanford is not known as a ball-hawking team on defense, and Arizona certainly appears to have the advantage at quarterback.

Why it's not: In Arizona's only road game to date, the Wildcats lost the turnover battle 5-0. For the year, Arizona is tied for 94th in the nation with 11 turnovers lost, and the Wildcats have forced just two turnovers in the three games since playing Oklahoma State. Meanwhile, Stanford is in the top 20 nationally in turnover margin, gaining 1.25 more turnovers than it loses per game, and that includes a couple interceptions thrown by Josh Nunes at the end of halves.

3. Josh Nunes will throw for more touchdowns than Matt Scott.

Why it's preposterous: Did you see Nunes last week? He looked incapable of completing a pass for much of the game, and the offense was held out of the end zone entirely. He has thrown multiple touchdowns twice this year, whereas Scott has thrown multiple touchdowns four times. Scott has averaged 44 pass attempts per game compared to Nunes's 31, so he should have many more opportunities, and Stanford figures to trust its running game more than its passing game.

Why it's not: The difference in the two quarterback's touchdowns-per-game is not huge (2 for Scott, 1.5 for Nunes). Scott threw none in his team's toughest game to date, the shutout loss to Oregon, and this game figures to be the next-hardest for the Wildcats. Stanford's pass defense has improved exponentially, as the squad ranks 18th nationally in pass efficiency defense, and the Cardinal has allowed just two touchdown passes all year. Meanwhile, Arizona's defense has given up nine touchdown passes in its three games against AQ-conference schools.

4. Stanford will win by at least 20 points.

Why it's preposterous: Stanford has only scored more than 21 points in a game once this year, so that's asking an awful lot of the Cardinal defense. Especially since Arizona averages 35 points per game. Stanford has only won one game this year by more than a touchdown. In fact, since the Cardinal's record-breaking string of 25-point wins in 2010-11, Stanford has won by 20+ points just twice in 10 games. The point-spread for this game only favors Stanford by nine, and even that was too high for two of the three Rule of Tree predictors to pick Stanford to cover. (Okay, maybe that's a reason it will happen...)

Why it's not: Stanford has beaten Arizona by 27 and 25 the last two years. In Arizona's only road game this year, the Wildcats lost by 49, and Arizona still has just one win over an AQ-conference school. The Cardinal will be playing in front of a Homecoming crowd fresh off an extra two days of rest following last week's debacle. The players and coaches will want to jump out on top of Arizona to show the world that there is still talent on this team, while Arizona is in the midst of a six-game stretch against ranked opponents.

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