College football is finally back and the PAC-12 highlights the night with the Stanford Cardinal facing off against the Rice Owlets down under in Sydney, Australia. For each team, one player will step up in a big way, both because of talent and matchup opportunity. These are each teams major key.
Stanford Cardinal - Bryce Love
This is an obvious one but the Cardinal will lean on the running attack heavily, with quarterback Keller Chryst returning from the injury sustained against North Carolina in the Sun Bowl. Bryce love ran for 111 yards and a touchdown on the ground last time Stanford played Rice. This time around Christian McCaffrey will not be there sucking up 30 carries either, leaving Love with the lion’s share of the workload.
Prediction: Because the Cardinal will jump out to an early lead, Love will probably only see three quarters. Even with the shortened time on the field he runs for 150 yards, two touchdowns and 40 receiving yards.
Rice Owlets - Emmanuel Ellerbee
After 118 tackles last season, 70 of which were solo, senior linebacker Ellerbee is the player to watch against the run heavy offensive game Stanford will have planed. He will need to be a force in the front seven, setting the defensive tone by going out, playing sideline to sideline and getting to the Cardinal backs. He also recorded eight tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks last season, if he can bring that ferocity to the Stanford backfield, playing the role of constant disruptor, Rice will have some defensive teeth. He needs to be the one that puts Chryst out of his comfort zone in the first game since the knee injury.
Prediction: Ellerbee gets after the ball right out of the gate, recording 15 tackles and two tackles for loss.