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Rule of Tree Staff Predictions: San Diego State Aztecs at Stanford Cardinal

Here’s how the Rule of Tree staff sees Stanford’s season opener!

Stanford v San Diego State Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Matt Vassar: Yes, I’m aware that we lost when we last met SDSU. But it was only by a field goal, and I just don’t see it happening again when we move the game to Stanford Stadium. And especially with SDSU losing half of its defensive starters—including 2 of 3 on the defensive line—I just don’t see them having an answer for Bryce Love. In the passing game, JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Trenton Irwin, and Kaden Smith (whom Shaw has dubbed “the next Zach Ertz”) will put in a good (but not great) performance. But the unsung heroes will once again be the tunnel workers’ union opening up holes for Love, who in turn will put in a performance worthy of a Heisman runner-up. Stanford 31, SDSU 17

Grant Avalon: I don’t think the loss of Rashaad Penny is as significant as people think; Juwan Washington is likely headed for a big year of his own on the ground, and veteran QB Christian Chapman is back at the helm. With that said, I don’t foresee a repeat of Keller Chryst’s clunker from a year ago. K.J. Costello, Bryce Love, and the talented Cardinal offense should have their way with the Aztec D. Stanford 38, SDSU 21

David Ta: Last year we lost because of a terrible performance by Keller Chryst and we deserved to lose. That should change with the strong-armed K.J. Costello. Our offense will win us the game, but the defense will keep it from being a blowout. Last year was concerning, but we have lost proven stars in Harrison Phillips, Quenton Meeks and Justin Reid. The SDSU offensive line is young but talented. Juwan Washington will have a strong showing and rush for over 100 yards against an unproven Stanford DL that was already a weak point last year. It will be close in the first half, but Stanford’s talent will overpower a resilient SDSU effort to win the game. Stanford 45, SDSU 31

Marlaina Calhoun: To me, the biggest takeaways from last year’s game were: 1. how much SDSU’s time of possession dominated Stanford’s, and 2. the obvious lack of QB play from Chryst. Other than Bryce Love’s two big 50+ yard runs (which we’ve come to expect and cherish) the tempo and mood were totally controlled by SDSU from start to finish. I expect Costello and Stanford’s receiving team to come out strong out of the gate and remain a force throughout the game. Bryce Love will have his way as well. Hopefully the lights stay on this time. Stanford 41, SDSU 17

Kyle Fierro: Last year, Stanford led at SDSU with less than a minute remaining after 4 quarters of the worst QB play I can remember. Chryst finished with a QBR of 4.2, a 45% completion rate, 72 yards passing, a TD/INT of 0/2 and a lost fumble. All of Stanford’s offense came on two exceptional Love runs. Thankfully, Love is the only constant between last year’s game and Friday’s match-up. Gone is Rashaad Penny, the only guy to out-rush Love last year. Gone is Chryst, replaced with a healthy Costello. Gone are the back-to-back road games following a trip to Australia. Penny’s backup RB Washington should provide a solid test for the new Cardinal D-Line, and injuries to #1 CB Alijah Holder and starting center Jesse Burkett will handicap the Cardinal somewhat. But make no mistake, this Stanford offense is magnitudes better than what SDSU saw last year, and it will more than make up for a questionable defense. Stanford 37, SDSU 20

nerdnation23: The first game of the season is always a tossup; even if you have a good idea how the team will finish, Stanford often surprises us in how it will start. Stanford comes into 2018 with lofty goals, but 2017 lingers. The biggest thing from last year to this year is Keller Chryst is no longer the best player for the Aztecs and that alone should be the key to the game. Stanford gets going early and often to run away with a win. Stanford 38, SDSU 17

Colton Molesky: Despite any misgivings about the Stanford defense, the offense will be far too much for the Aztecs. Last year, Bryce Love dashed for 184 yards on the ground, virtually unassisted by those around him not on the offensive line. This round, the quarterback spot is solidified behind K.J. Costello, while also giving him a great new tool in Osiris St. Brown at wide receiver. The new deep threat, paired with an improvement at quarterback and the return of a monster in the backfield all spell doom for SDSU’s defense. Stanford 31, SDSU 17