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Schedule and Odds
After Stanford showed last year once again that they can succeed even when stars leave, many have the Cardinal as a Top Five team going into 2013. With no Andrew Luck, Stanford defied expectations and finished last season with 12 wins, including eight straight since losing to Notre Dame in overtime. The reason everyone loves them is because they have a lot of players returning, most importantly on the defensive end where eight starters will be back.
Stanford is 9th overall of all BCS teams in terms of odds to win the Title this year, at 9 to 1, at 5 Dimes Sportsbook. They are also the 2nd choice, behind only Oregon, to win the PAC-12 Title.
The defense that stopped some of the highest scoring teams in the nation last year like Oregon and UCLA in back-to-back games and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl, could be even better this season. They have depth at all positions and return plenty of all-conference selections.
The question could fall to their offense as they only mustered 13 points in each of their two losses in 2012. Josh Nunes is gone at quarterback, but that shouldn't be a huge deal as Kevin Hogan started the last six games and finished with nine TDs compared to three INTs. Also gone from the backfield is every-down rusher Stepfan Taylor who finished with 322 carries and 1,530 yards last season. Stanford will use more of a committee this year with RBs like Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson. Luckily, they'll have one of the best offensive lines in the country in front of them. Hogan's problems will likely be in the passing game where he is losing his top two tight ends. He'll likely have to turn to his wide receivers more this year.
2013 Stanford College Football Schedule
Sept. 7 vs. San Jose State
Sept. 14 at Army
Sept. 21 vs. Arizona State
Sept. 28 at Washington State
Oct. 5 vs. Washington
Oct. 12 at Utah
Oct. 19 vs. UCLA
Oct. 26 at Oregon State
Nov. 7 vs. Oregon
Nov. 16 at USC
Nov. 23 vs. California
Nov. 30 vs. Notre Dame
If there's one positive from Stanford's schedule, it's that they don't have that many difficult road games. Notable ones include Oregon State, USC and Utah. They get to play the likes of UCLA, Oregon and Notre Dame all at home.
The Cardinal will actually get a tough test in their opener against San Jose State. They only beat the Spartans 20-17 last year. From there, it doesn't ever really get easy for Stanford, as we saw last year when they couldn't really pull away from any team. Washington State will be an early task on the road at the end of September. Both of Stanford's losses last year came on the road if that says anything.
A late October stretch that includes UCLA, Oregon State, Oregon and USC will probably decide their season. If they can get through that stretch unharmed, expect a National Title shot from the Cardinal. They'll finish off against Notre Dame, but that game will be in Stanford.
It would be a great accomplishment if Stanford can get to 12 overall wins again this year, but these guys have 14 implanted in their heads at this point. As long as their offense doesn't take a step back, it'll be very possible.
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