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Way-Too-Early Game-By Game Predictions For Stanford: Part Two

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It could be a "transition year" for the Cardinal

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

After my first set of predictions, you might feel miserable. Dejected. Even hopeless. Since my predictions are always 100% correct, there's absolutely no reason to watch Stanford play football this season.

In case you missed it, here's a quick summary of my way-too-early predictions:

KSU: W

USC: W

UCLA: W

UW: L

WSU: W

ND: L

A 4-2 start isn't what we're used to from the reigning Rose Bowl champs. But that doesn't necessarily mean the home stretch will be as depressing. Picks below:

Oct. 22nd vs. Colorado

Shocker: there's no way Stanford loses this game.

Sure, Mike McIntire has a much more experienced team than in recent years, but even so, it's hard to see the Buffaloes making significant strides from their abysmal 4-9 season last year. The talent just isn't there for Colorado -- they could be playing essentially their third-string option at quarterback this season after Davis Webb's transfer to Cal and Sefo Liufau's Lisfranc injury.

Prediction: Stanford 49, Colorado 17

Record: 5-2

Oct. 29th @ Arizona

Arizona has sleeper potential written all over them. Talented quarterback Anu Solomon is coming back healthy, as is Nick Wilson, who racked up 1,375 yards (5.8 YPC) as a freshman before suffering an injury-riddled 2015 campaign. The Wildcats also return 16 starters from last season, which could all help them surprise many in the Pac-12 South.

However, Stanford has no reason to sleep on them, with this game sandwiched between games against the Pac-12's two worst teams from last year. Even on the road, Stanford should be able to handle a team that finished second-to-last in the Pac-12 in scoring defense last season.

Prediction: Stanford 38, Arizona 26

Record: 6-2

Nov. 5th vs. Oregon State

No explanation necessary.

Prediction: Stanford 56, Oregon State 17

Record: 7-2

Nov. 12th @ Oregon

This game will make or break Stanford's season. Win, and they might be in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Lose, and they're heading to El Paso. Or worse.

It's usually hard to get a read on the Ducks -- their system tends to turn players with lower star rankings into actual stars. They have the offensive weapons to get it done, including transfer quarterback Dakota Prukop -- it's just a matter of whether the offensive line can come together in support of a completely revamped defensive front.

Last season, Oregon's defense (11th in Pac-12 in total "D") was what kept it from being a title contender, but there's reason to believe that won't be the case again this season. Although Oregon returns just one starter in its front seven, Brady Hoke has been hired to fix the Ducks' ailing defense.

As Evan Market at FishDuck writes, Hoke is planning to change Oregon's defensive scheme from a 3-4 to a 4-3. Historically, Hoke has had huge success in turning around defenses, as he did with Michigan. In just one year, he turned them from unsightly in 2010 (110th in total defense) to a top 20 defensive team in 2011. Despite some heavy losses, don't expect Oregon's defense to be nearly as putrid as it was last season. Hoke will make do with what he's got -- chemistry is less of an issue on defensive lines that it is on offensive lines. It's easier to replace a front seven than it is an offensive line.

Especially with a first-year quarterback and an offensive line that hasn't played a lot together, I don't think Stanford will take down the Ducks at Autzen. In 2014, when there was a similar offensive line situation, Stanford came to Autzen and got blown out 45-16.

Prediction: Oregon 34, Stanford 30

Record: 7-3

Nov. 19th @ Cal

Stanford hasn't lost possession of the Axe since 2009, and it's unlikely to be shipped across the Bay this season, unless of course it gets stolen. Sure, the transfer of Davis Webb and addition of Demetris Robertson will be enough to make it seem like Cal has a chance, but as usual, they really don't have enough defense to stay with Stanford.

They gave up 6.1 yards per play last season, good for 108th in the nation in total defense, and are losing five starters. Evidently, there's not a lot of reason to expect significant improvement from these Bears on the defensive end.

Stanford is simply the more well-rounded football team, and should rebound from a tough loss to Oregon and come out on top. Again.

Prediction: Stanford 42, Cal 23

Record: 8-3

Nov. 26th vs. Rice

Is this even a question?

Prediction: Stanford 56, Rice 6

Record: 9-3

Overall, I expect this to be a transition year of sorts for the Cardinal, with issues that could arise on the offensive line and from having a first-year quarterback.  I get it, Stanford has a lot of offensive tools, but the front seven is enduring some losses and uncertainty with Harrison Phillips' knee. It's a sign of how far this program has come -- this sort of season would have been like winning the lottery and hitting a hole-in-one on the same day before the Harbaugh/Shaw era..

You can't make the Rose Bowl every year.