1. STANFORD WIN TOTAL PREDICTION: WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN
Underestimate Stanford at your own peril, but take one look at the schedule it has to deal with and the analysis is simple.
This is another good Cardinal team under David Shaw, and it’ll turn out to be strong enough to beat anyone on the slate, but there are a whole slew of giant holes that need filling.
The inside linebacker jobs will be fine … eventually. That’s a question mark, as is the overall sure-thing health of the offensive line, as is the safety rotation.
The receiving corps will be fine despite losing the top parts, the running backs will eventually be good despite losing Bryce Love, and the offense will keep up in most games with QB KJ Costello good enough to grow into more of an NFL prospect.
Jet Toner is one of the nation’s best kickers, the defense will be fine despite all the personnel losses, and …
Set The Regular Season Win Total At … 8
Again, that schedule is a big, big problem. How bad is it?
Start out against the defending Big Ten West champ, Northwestern, then go to LA to deal with a USC team that really needs the win. Then go to UCF – because that’s a regular old road game against a Group of Five program – and then host a grouchy Oregon team that lost last year’s battle in an epic gag.
There’s your first four weeks.
Oregon State isn’t all that great, but that’s on the road, and then Washington comes to Palo Alto.
So yes, Stanford gets some of the nastiest Pac-12 North games at home, but it doesn’t stop.
UCLA will be stronger. Arizona will be stronger. Going to Colorado and Washington State is scary. Cal’s defense will be a killer again. And if all that wasn’t enough, the regular season ends against Notre Dame.
Even with all of the problems, concerns, and scheduling issues, it’s Stanford under head coach David Shaw. It’ll win at least eight games, it’ll be competitive and tough at home, and it will find ways to pull out enough wins to be in the Pac-12 title chase into November.