Preview 2017: Stanford Is Ready To Win Something Truly Big
Stanford has lots and lots of great wins. Now it needs to win something truly big.
Okay, Stanford. Now it’s time to play in a really, really big game.
Over the last several seasons, with the possible exception of Wisconsin, find a program more successful than Stanford that hasn’t been able to get over that one last hump.
Of course winning three Pac-12 championships in the last five years is incredible.
But Oregon played in two national championship games in the last seven seasons.
Of course going to three Rose Bowls during this run – along with a Fiesta and an Orange – has been unbelievable for a program that went 1-11 in 2006, and suffered seven straight losing seasons until 2009.
But none of those bowls were for a BCS Championship. None of them were College Football Playoff games.
Yeah, how amazing is it that going 8-5 in 2014 counts as a clunker now, and a ten-win 2016 campaign is a disappointment?
Sure, it’s great, but Washington has risen back up, Oregon looks like it’s about to start crushing again under WIllie Taggart, and USC might just be on the verge of being USC again.
And that’s why this season is such a big deal for Stanford. This is the year when the program has to take advantage of a favorable schedule, a terrific returning team, and the possible last shot at owning this conference before it’ll be more of a battle.
The Pac-12 is one the verge of being really, really strong.
It’s not that a window is closing on Stanford – far from it. It’s just that it might be much, much harder over the next few years to crank out the consistent, championship-level success, even if the team itself is as good, if not better, than some of the recent monsters.
The USC game is on the road, Utah is never easy in Salt Lake City, and Washington State – who destroyed the Cardinal last year – gets the game in Pullman. But Arizona State, Oregon, Washington, and Notre Dame all have to make the trip to Palo Alto.
Stanford isn’t going to get this kind of schedule break on a regular basis.
Sure, there’s no Christian McCaffrey or Solomon Thomas around anymore, but Bryce Love appears ready to explode as the No. 1 back, and they grow 275-pound pass rushing defensive linemen on trees on The Farm.
No, coming off a knee injury, starting quarterback Keller Chryst might not be close to ready by the start of the season, but Ryan Burns is a big, veteran bomber who caught the bad break of having to play all the good teams last year – while Chryst got the relative layups.
The O line that struggled is loaded with veterans, along with phenomenal young talents, the receiving corps should be good enough, and the secondary might just be the best in the Pac-12.
And, of course, there’s head coach David Shaw.
Gush all you want about Jim Harbaugh and what he did to get the program on the right track, but based on recent accomplishments, other than Urban, Nick, and now Dabo, what college coach has a better resume over the last six seasons?
But there’s still that one big game and that one big moment missing on the incredible resume. And he’s really, really close to getting it.
Stanford has more than earned its stripes, and it’s more than ready to bounce back from a very good year and make 2017 a special one.
The Cardinal are more than ready to get into the College Football Playoff.
It’s now time for it to be Stanford’s turn.