The Stanford Cardinal have seen this before, dominating the Rice Owlets 41-17 last season in a route. Now both teams will have a new look to them, but will it matter?
The Cardinal have already announced Keller Chryst as the starting signal caller, which means they will probably go heavy run to ease him back into game action, as this will be his first game since a knee injury sidelined him last season. This should be easy for the Cardinal, since the Owlets let up 218 rushing yards per game. The new starter in the Stanford backfield, Bryce Love, tore through the Rice defense for 111 yards on a mere seven carries, averaging 15.6 yards a tote. Now he has the bulk of the carries to dig into the Rice defense.
While the Owlets are returning all five starting offensive linemen return from last season, however, this is the crew that let up 33 sacks last season, not exemplary. The defense will also be in transition, switching from a 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 to get more linebackers playing downhill. The change is meant to help the defense attack opposing quarterbacks, but when the adjustment hits real game speed, the team will face a learning curve.
The Cardinal offense never was menacing through air, with a lack of firepower at receiver last season. However, Chryst showed a cannon of an arm last year, stretching the field and keeping opposing defenses from loading the box like when Ryan Burns was starting.
On the defensive side for the Cardinal they lost quarterback killer Solomon Thomas to the draft. They are returning defensive tackle Harrison Phillips and outside linebacker Joey Alfieri, who combined for 11.5 sacks and give the defensive line both push through the middle (Phillips) and versatility (Alfieri). The secondary also returns three studs, corners Quenton Meeks and Alijah Holder with Justin Reid coming back at strong safety. With two lockdown players to defend the pass, paired with Reid’s versatility as pass defender and run stopper, the Cardinal defense will be fine finding their front seven in game one.
The Cardinal can run the ball at will on this team, and the secondary should snag plenty of turnovers against a desperate Rice team trying to pass themselves back into the game. The Cardinal jump out early and do not look back, pulling starters in the third quarter.
Rice Owls (0-0) vs Stanford Cardinal (0-0)
How to Watch:
Start Time: Saturday, August 26, 7:00p.m. PST
Location: Allianz Stadium — Sydney, Australia
Radio: Tune In
Live Streaming: WatchESPN
Rule of Tree Prediction: Stanford wins 45-27
Vegas Odds: Stanford -30.5, 50.5 O/U
FPI Matchup Predictor: Stanford 98.3% win probability
S&P+ Ratings: Projected 36 point Stanford victory
Massey Rankings: Stanford win probability of 98% with a projected final score of 38-7
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