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Predicting Stanford's 2012 Football Season (in January)

How good can Stepfan Taylor and the 2012 Cardinal be?
How good can Stepfan Taylor and the 2012 Cardinal be?

We'll continue to look back on the 2011 season over the next few weeks, but let's briefly take a look ahead to next season and wonder how Stanford will navigate its ridiculously awful 2012 football schedule. Not knowing who will replace Andrew Luck at quarterback -- and how good he is -- is just one of the many factors that makes this exercise silly. That hasn't stopped us before. To the picks!

Sept. 1: vs. San Jose State

Win. The Spartans showed marked improvement in head coach Mike MacIntyre's second year at the helm, winning five games, including their first conference road win since 2008. Still, Stepfan Taylor should feast on the San Jose State rushing defense, which allowed more than 200 yards per game this season.

Sept. 8: vs. Duke

Win. Duke was competitive in most games, but the Blue Devils lost seven straight to end the season. Rising senior Sean Renfree is one of the more underrated quarterbacks in the country, but this game shouldn't be close.

Sept. 15: vs. USC

Loss. If the Trojans beat the Cardinal and the students aren't there to see it, does the game count? Unfortunately yes. I'd like Stanford's chances against USC better if the game was later in the year and Luck's replacement had a few more games under his belt.

Sept. 22: BYE

Sept. 27: at Washington

Win. Keith Price looked like the real deal in the Alamo Bowl, though the Baylor defense -- or lack thereof -- probably had something to do with it. The Stanford defense should be even better next year and the Cardinal ground attack shouldn't encounter much resistance in Seattle, even if it doesn't set another single-game rushing record.

Oct. 6: vs. Arizona

Win. Rich Rod may turn the Wildcats around, but he won't do it overnight.

Oct. 13: at Notre Dame

Loss. Neither team knows who their quarterback will be next season. So long as it isn't the difference between making a BCS bowl or not, I might trade a Stanford win in South Bend for two Stanford losses elsewhere.

Oct. 20: at Cal

Win. What, you need a reason?

Oct. 27: vs. Washington State

Win. Mike Leach may turn the Cougars around, but he won't do it overnight.

Nov. 3: at Colorado

Win. I'm rooting for snow football.

Nov. 10: vs. Oregon State

Win. The Red Zone should be amped up and at full capacity for the third and final time in 2012.

Nov. 17: at Oregon

Loss. De'Anthony Thomas could have 30 touchdowns headed into this game.

Nov. 24: at UCLA

Win. Jim Mora may turn the Bruins around, but -- wait, no he won't.

Final Record: 9-3

Not too shabby, huh? By August, 9-3 could seem like a crazy stretch or just about right. We should have a little better idea after the Spring Game, which seems like forever from now. What do you think?