It was hard to grasp what kind of season Stanford would have after the departure of stud quarterback Andrew Luck, but a 12-2 overall record, including a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin, proved that the Cardinal aren't going anywhere.
There were some highly impressive wins on their resume, including home victories over USC and Oregon State and a massive road win over a previously unbeaten Oregon Ducks team. The Cardinal also topped UCLA twice, one of which was for the Pac-12 title.
The only two losses for Stanford came on the road versus Notre Dame (forgivable) and Washington.
2013 Futures Odds
As of now certain sportsbooks have the Cardinal at +2500 to win the BCS National Championship Game next season.
What kind of company are they keeping? Those kind of college football odds put them in the same category as the likes of Clemson, Florida and Florida State, all of which are listed at the same odds.
Of the Pac-12 teams in the running, only Oregon is ahead of Stanford on the College Football odds list. The Cardinal are well ahead of UCLA (+5000), USC (+5000), Oregon State (+10000) and Washington (+10000).
Though Stanford loses star running back Stepfan Taylor as well as key tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo, there's still reason to be hopeful for another big year out of this team.
For one, the Cardinal will have Kevin Hogan back and he's only going to get better. Hogan took over the starting quarterback job from Josh Nunes and never looked back, completing 71.7 percent of his passes overall and also offering up a threat with his athleticism.
Considering what he was able to do as a freshman, you have to think Hogan will emerge as one of the most dangerous QBs in the country next season. He wasn't asked to do too much once he took over the reigns of the offense, but there's an excellent chance David Shaw will opt to let his talented quarterback loose a little bit more in 2013.
This Stanford team also boasts one of the country's best offensive lines, and their defense wasn't too shabby either. The Cardinal had the #20-rated team defense in the country last season, mainly because of a run defense that allowed just 97.0 yards per game.
If Stanford can get a couple playmakers to step up in the backfield and out at receiver in order to surround Hogan with the necessary talent, there's no reason to expect a major dropoff from Shaw's crew.
All things considered, it's not a terribly hard schedule. The Cardinal will have to contend with Oregon, but that didn't seem to be an issue this past season and now they get them at Stanford Stadium.
Stanford will also play host to the likes of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, UCLA and California, while road matchups versus USC and Oregon State could be challenging. Nonetheless, as we mentioned, the Cardinal dealt with a similar schedule with tremendous success in 2012.That said, there's quite a bit of pressure on this program now. Over the last three years, Stanford has gone 35-5 and has won the Orange Bowl (over Virginia Tech in 2010) and the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin this past year. What kind of damage will the Cardinal do in 2013?