Schedule and Odds
Stanford played Four ranked teams on the road last year with three of them being in the Top 10. The Cardinal finished with a disappointing 8-5 record as the offense struggled until the final three weeks of the season. Due to a big turnover from last year’s dominant defense, they have the fifth-best odds to win the Pac-12 at +650 (found at 5Dimes).
However, the difference for this year’s team may be on the offensive side. The group closed 2014 with three big wins, including an emphatic road win at UCLA 31-10. Quarterback Kevin Hogan is a fifth-year senior and seemed to jump over a hump late in the year and that carried over in the spring. If Hogan can improve on his 19 TDs and 8 INTs, this offense may turn into a strength rather than a problem.
The offensive line loses Andrus Peat, but is still expected to be a solid group, and their cohesion will be vital in how well the offense plays. Remound Wright (11 TDs) along with Christian McCaffrey (7.1 yards per carry) and Barry Sanders Jr. will lead the backfield again and should be better than a year ago. The biggest area of concern may be at wide receiver where they lose speedy playmaker Ty Montgomery. However, Devon Cajuste and Michael Rector are still there along with tight end Austin Hooper. Hogan has the pieces, but can he put them together for an entire season?
Surprisingly, the defense may be the bigger issue with Stanford as only Four starters return, although it didn’t look like a problem in the spring. The defensive line and secondary was gutted with Four All-Pac-12 players moving on. However, the defensive talent on this team is evident and that’s seen immediately with bulked up redshirt freshman Solomon Thomas and Harrison Phillips moving onto the line. They’ll need to get some players healthy as well because more than a few projected starters were out in the spring like Aziz Shittu and linebacker Kevin Anderson. The secondary took a big hit, but coach Duane Akina doesn’t expect any drop-off from his group this season.
The Schedule doesn’t start too friendly for the Cardinal as they don’t get any walkover non-Conference matchups. They open the season at a feisty Northwestern squad then host UCF. Opening Pac-12 play with road Games at USC and Oregon State will be good tests for this team as well. A 3-1 record after that stretch will be a good sign, and while a back-to-back against Arizona and UCLA awaits, there is some positives in this Schedule. For starters, only two of their final eight Games are on the road, with those coming against Washington State and Colorado. Stanford has a difficult stretch to close the season with Oregon, Cal and Notre Dame, but at least all of those Games are at home.
As long as the offense lives up to some of this early-season hype from The Farm, the Cardinal could be in a very good position by season’s end. However, if the defense has any growing pains, that could show up immediately in those difficult road Games. Still, with a number of teams bringing in new quarterbacks, the return of Kevin Hogan could be key for Stanford and help them surprise the Pac-12. Nine wins is a good expectation for this team, but more can be had if the defense doesn’t drop-off much.
2015 Stanford Football Schedule
Sept. 5 at Northwestern
Sept. 12 vs. UCF
Sept. 19 at USC
Sept. 25 at Oregon State
Oct. 3 vs. Arizona
Oct. 15 vs. UCLA
Oct. 24 vs. Washington
Oct. 31 at Washington State
Nov. 7 at Colorado
Nov. 14 vs. Oregon
Nov. 21 vs. California
Nov. 28 vs. Notre Dame