Stanford football success almost became taken for granted.
The program suffered through seven straight losing seasons from 2002 through 2008, and then the run started of seven straight winning campaigns, including four straight with nine wins or more over the last four years.
And then came the 4-8 clunker of last season.
QB KJ Costello – now at Mississippi State – was never healthy after the opener, the offensive line was decimated by injuries, and the defense had its worst season in well over a decade.
Call it an aberration.
Oregon will be in everyone’s preseason top ten – if not a whole lot higher – Cal is going to be a fashionably-likable team, Washington is strong again, and even Oregon State and Washington State will be interesting. But the Cardinal should be a factor in the Pac-12 North – as long as everyone can stay healthy.
Former superstar recruit Davis Mills should be up and ready to roll at quarterback, but there are other options to play around with once and if practices get going.
Most of the top receivers are back, and the offensive line that suffered through so many problems last season – and had to go young at a few spots – should be a force.
The defensive front needs reworking, but the secondary should be sound, and years of decent recruiting should help the cause up front.
It’s going to be a tough run with the Oregon, Washington and Notre Dame games all on the road, but there’s no Utah or Arizona State on the slate, and there are more than enough winnable games to make a push for a nine-win season for the fourth time in five years.