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Let's start here: we won the Pac-12 last year, finished #3. OK, Got it ?!
Since 2011, very few pundits have picked Stanford to win the Pac-12 crown: We did it 3 of last 4. Not just the North — the Pac-12, and then 2 for 3 in the Rose Bowl. So, pundits — go take a circular shower until you get it right.
Here’s where the under-rating of Cardinal is off the mark:
* Frosh or new QBs have a great track record in NCAA at highly competitive levels (OHST, CLEM, UCLA with Rosen last year, etc); Chryst or Burns will be fine. And, LOOK AT ALL THE WEAPONS TO GIVE THE BALL TO !! Luck didn’t have this skill level at every position ! FEEL THE BURNS.
* Shaw is now REALLY comfortable with his playbook – unlike 2014 or the NORW opener last year. We don’t open with a down note in 2016. - and OUR Heisman winner is returning (unlike Bama’s) ! Plus all the WRs and TEs, plus B.Love, two FBs. More footballs, please.
* Everyone thought the 2013 Defense (Skov, Murphy, Gardner) couldn’t be topped. WRONG! 2014 was BETTER ! But the Offense didn’t gel. RELOAD.
* Sure, three big guys are gone on the O-Line — but every guy lined up now played last year. They do Tunnel Working.
* The D-Line will surprise. Thomas as the Beast Anchor; Phillips steps in, plus Nate Lohn, Watkins, Kaumatule, Cotton — ADD BIG Mike Williams 4star frosh out of Texas.
We go 6 or 8 deep at LB; they come in like lines in hockey. All licensed to snuff.
* Under Coach Akina, I posit this is the best secondary to ever play at Stanford. All 4-stars, anchored by vet Lloyd, and look what Meeks did as a frosh.
Week 1) KAST: Good tuneup, but a new QB and very young O-Line for disciplined Wildcats. A dark, dense forest of Stanford trees is not a nice place for kitty cats. Snyder is a hall of fame coach, but he can’t compete anymore in Big12 recruiting with leaps made by OKLA, Baylor, TCU, OKST.
3) USC: Licking our chops to get Trojans early before their new QB settles in. They have great RBs and WRs, but their Defense was better last year. Consider: We BEAT Troy like a drum TWICE last season — neither time in our home stadium. They were #2 in USA in 2012, when we won in PA. Lather, rinse, repeat. Let’s see how they open vs BAMA.
4) UCLA: This game is at a "neutral site" — the Rose Bowl !! McCaff LOVES that venue ! UCLA has more holes on O-Line than we do. We thump Rosen — again. But, they might have best Defense in the league. A tough wrestling match.
5) Sept 30: @WASH: This is not a TRAP game; this is THE PIVOT game of the season — more important than Oregon or Cal. And a Friday. Ugh. Our Defense must score points to beat Huskies — and I think they can. Most hostile venue in the Pac-12. A Gaskin vs McCaffrey RB showcase. Which QB plays better under pressure?
6) WAST: Nobody will be surprised by the Cougs anymore — legit team; Great passing. We will be ready; fortunately no windy rain storm in PA. We might have the best Pass Defense in the league by mid-season: Pick 6 is on the menu.
7) @NDAM: Our team, even without Hogan, is better than the team that took #2 NDAM to OT in 2012. We suffered a 4th down Hail Mary in the South Bend slop of 2014. Sure, Our Lady wants revenge from last year's thriller— and if both teams are undefeated on Oct 15, this is a "Playoff Play-in" game AGAIN. Boffo TV ratings. McCaffery "wakes up his own echoes". Imagine the headline: "Christian beats Notre Dame" -- a KEY tiff for recruiting in 2017. Ukropina splits the uprights on TD Jesus Mosaic, completing the home and away exacta! Righteous!
8) COLO: We slay Buffs once more. Homecoming. Let the regulars heal a bit from NDAM. More playing time for capable backups. Burger time!
9) @ZONA: Nice road trip to Tucson in Oct., Decent Offense, but might be one of the poorest defenses in the league. We will have good film by week 9.
10) ORST: Add another pelt to the list. Beavs are quick, but lack size and depth. Very difficult to get 4-star recruits to Corvallis.
11) @OREG: This is the deciding game of the match for Pac-12 dominance. We upset them in OT up there in 2012, and thrashed Mariota & Co in PA 2013. Then Mariota danced on our heads in 2014 (Heisman), and they edged us in a tight one at PA last year. Their Defense is in major makeover after finishing WORST in stopping scores last season. Plus they lost Off-Coordinator Scott Frost (now head coach at UCF). They don't have Mariota. They lost their bowl game vs TCU in spectacular 2H meltdown, while we stomped the yard on #5 IOWA. Eugene in Nov is NEVER nice -- but our run game and Defense are superior. By Nov we will know if transfer Prukop works at QB.
12) @CAL: Hardly a "road" game. Sleep in. And, without #1 NFL draft pick QB Goff and the WRs, Cal just sucks (but new WRs are very good). Maybe they blow. Davis Webb looks efficient but Hawaii is a 3-7 team, headed for same in 2016.
13) Nov 26, RICE: Fine tuning and injury recovery at home against a team that missed a bowl. Owl defense is Rice Paper... Less than 50 points would be under-performing.
Pac-12 Champ game vs an LA school. I think vs UCLA; USC suffers toughest schedule in USA, opening with BAMA, while UCLA misses both WASH and OREG. Bruins have QB Rosen; Trojans are training a first year QB and also lost D-Line beef, bet Trojans feature an NFL O-Line and great RBs and WRs. Only Stanford or Oregon have ever won the Pac-12 [championship game].
Seriously, we will be favored in nearly every game (close @WASH, @NDAM). Seattle is the big one. No letup. Intellectual Brutality rides again. Shaw is hitting his stride.