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Cardinal rank No. 31 on ESPN’s Football Power Index

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Is that going to be good enough for you?

Stanford v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Have you gotten enough football coverage from me yet? No? Good, because it’s not stopping anytime soon.

Look, all we have to look forward to right now, is the college football season. It’s the biggest sport, left relatively untouched by the coronavirus as of right now, and the first ‘big sport’ to start later this fall if all goes to plan.

So why wouldn’t we want to talk about it? And talk about it.

So, talk about it we shall.

ESPN updated their Football Power Index recently, and the Stanford Cardinal football team saw a nice little bump in their preseason ranking, jumping all the way up to No. 31 overall, fifth in the Pac-12 behind the ‘big guns’ from last year.

Before we jump into any more, though, how does ESPN get their FPI you ask?

The Football Power Index (FPI) is a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily. FPI data from seasons prior to 2019 may not be complete.

There you have it. That’s a lot of simulations, a lot of numbers and a lot of data. Right up my alley!

So specifically for Stanford, here’s how the data falls:

Projected wins: 7.0
Projected losses: 5.1
6-win %: 84.8%
Win Division %: 4.8%
Win Conference %: 1.7%
Make Playoffs/Win National Championship: (both) 0.0%

Stanford is projected to win 7 games, finishing 7-5. Okay, fine, I can see that, as I talked about previously this week. That’s not that far off. What it doesn’t do, though, is take into account that this is the Davis Mills show. He’s got this year to prove that he’s the top quarterback from his recruiting class, and this year to prove that this job is his.

This season will largely lie on his shoulder but how much should David Shaw be put to blame if this team finishes with a losing record again? The Cardinal haven’t sniffed a double-digit win season for what feels like longer than three years (sure, they were an Alamo Bowl win away from 10 wins in 2017, but c’mon).

Shaw is a long way away from any sort of hot seat talk, and so these projections of at least a 7-win season are a way of certainly preventing that. But, it begs the question, at what point are you not satisfied with Shaw as the head coach?

Did we all get so accustomed to Rose Bowl wins and 11- / 12- win seasons early in his career that he’d have a shorter leash than other coaches in the conference? Or are we lenient because he’s won all those games?

I’m curious as to your thoughts, because I have mine (that I’ll save for another day).