The Stanford Cardinal have been able to impose their will on opponents during the David Shaw era, but they’ll have a hard time duplicating those efforts in 2014.
Quite a run
Shaw has put together a dominating 34-7 straight-up record in his first three years as head coach at his alma mater, which includes a 20-1 mark when playing at Stanford Stadium.
The Cardinal own the second-longest active home winning streak in the nation at 16 games, which can’t be ignored when looking over the college football odds page on a weekly basis, but their four Pac-12 Conference games in that situation come against opponents with a returning starter under center.
It’s going to be a challenge for this squad with just five offensive and seven defensive starters to remain unblemished at home when taking on USC, Washington State, Oregon State and Utah.
The Cardinal lost a bulk of their offensive line and a 1,709-yard running back from a squad that went 11-3 in 2013-14, which are two reasons why a lot of NCAA football experts are a bit down on the program.
Stanford has been known to control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball during Shaw’s time in Palo Alto, but the offensive front returns just 26 career starts, while the defensive line has two returners that combined to miss 12 games.
The success of these two groups are paramount for this squad to exceed expectations, as five of Shaw’s seven losses have come when the team has been out gained.
Kevin Hogan is 16-3 as a starter, which can’t be ignored when making your college football betting picks, especially since that record includes a 10-1 mark versus ranked opponents.
The senior signal-caller threw for 20 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in 2013, but he also attempted just 17 passes in the fourth quarter in Stanford’s 11 wins.
The Cardinal coaching staff are expecting more out of the Virginia native this season, as he’s got some weapons in the passing game to target, including senior wide receiver Ty Montgomery.
Stanford will have no problem in picking up a victory against UC Davis in its season opener, but the strength of schedule goes up from there—hosting the USC Trojans in its Pac-12 opener the following week.
The Cardinal have a very challenging schedule away from Palo Alto, as there’s a chance that they could lose five of those six affairs, with the only win coming against top rival California.
I’m a huge supporter of Shaw on the sidelines, but the Cardinal are going to take a step back after putting together four consecutive seasons of 11 or more wins on The Farm.
Stanford has been the best team in the country at getting after the quarterback since 2009, but it simply doesn’t have the personnel to continue that success in 2014.
NCAA Football Pick: Under 8.5 Regular Season Wins