NCAAF Team Previews: Stanford Cardinal

Stanford Cardinal

Kevin Stott

Monday, July 11, 2016 2:32 PM GMT

With superstar RB Christian McCaffrey, Stanford has very high expectations this coming College Football season. Let’s look at Stanford’s Regular Season schedule with game W/L predictions.

Cardinal Offense More Than Just Prolific RB Christian McCaffrey
The Stanford Cardinal (12-2 SU, 8-4 ATS) will be led by 6-1, 201-pound sophomore Christian McCaffrey, an elusive RB from Castle Rock, Colorado who decided to stay in school and give it another go ‘round for respected NCAAF Head Coach David Shaw after having a breakout season in 2015. Stanford (28/1 to win BCS championship, William Hill) RB McCaffrey is not only a threat rushing the football, but on Special Teams as well as catching the pigskin and last year he ended with 45 Receptions for 645 yards (14.3 ypc) and 5 TDs.

Stanford (3/1 to win Pac-12 at William Hill)—which has won the Pac-12 North in 3 of the L4 years—has a dilemma at QB with Kevin Hogan headed to the NFL (Kansas City Chiefs) and Starting QB candidates Keller Chryst and Ryan Burns having a grand total of just 10 attempted passes between them. So it’s hard to imagine the Cardinal (37.8 PF-22.8 PA) averaging that robust 37.8 ppg they did last season, especially with WRs Devon Cajuste and TE Austin Hooper having both graduated. So WRs Francis Owusu and Trenton Irwin and Stanford TE Dalton Schultz will have to become reliable and not drop passes from whoever wins the starting QB job between Burns and Chryst.

We can probably expect last season’s 50% 3rd Down Conversion Rate (Opponents 32%) to drop for Stanford with last year’s reliable QB Hogan gone and now making big money for playing this game, meaning the rest of the team may have to pick it up and jell quickly as having and trying to break in a new QB on a new team is often like having a puppy. And avoiding an injury to RB’s McCaffery and/or Love (29 Rushes, 226 yards, 2 TDs) is imperative but last year’s Heisman-Trophy runner-up McCaffery could have another statistically gaudy season, win the Heisman Trophy and Stanford and its fans could still end up a tad disappointed.

Watch this speedy Love guy (4.4 40-yard Dash) in the backfield, and expect a breakout season from the 5-10, 180-pound native of Raleigh, NC, which will also open up the field for McCaffrey, but may cut into his overall statistics. Having McCaffrey and dynamic Freshman Love (5-10, 184) will make having an on-the-fly learning Signal Caller a little easier in beautiful Palo Alto where the large, freaky-looking Stanford Tree runs the sidelines.

The Cardinal Defense will rebuild again this season, but in the context of overall Defense in the Pac-12, Stanford had evolved into a smart type of team on Defense which doesn’t usually beat itself, although the 23 ppg last season was the highest in the L4 seasons (15, 19, 17) and the Cardinal ranked a pathetic 110th in the nation with just 14 Takeaways—and those are the kind of numbers which just do not improve overnight, so yet another reason to expect a little regression with this Stanford team. Two key DE’s, Aziz Shittu and Brennan Scarlett, both graduated so guys like towering DL Luke Kaumatule (6-7, 294) and Harrison Phillips will have to learn, stay healthy and improve through the late Summer and Fall on The Farm to get the D primed. Stanford Seniors made 188 starts last season, tied for the highest mark in the nation with Akron.


Stanford Overall ATS Record L4 Years
2015: 10-4, 2014: 6-6, 2013: 7-7, 2012: 9-5; Total= 32-22 (59.2% ATS)
Pac-12 ATS L4 Years: 2015: 8-2, 2014: 4-5, 2013: 7-3, 2012: 6-4; Total= 25-14 (64.1% ATS)

Key Scheduling Stretches (2): 1—Sept 17 vs. USC (Week 3), Sept. 24 at UCLA (Week 4), Sept. 30 at Washington (Week 5); 2—Oct. 29 at Arizona (Week 9), Nov. 5 Oregon St. (Week 10), Nov. 12 at Oregon (Week 11), Nov. 19 at California (Week 12).

 

Good Potential Betting Spot in Regular Season 
Fading (betting against) Stanford in Week 11 and taking Royce Freeman (40/1 to win Heisman Trophy, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) the host Oregon Ducks and laying the points in this spot is suggested as the Cardinal lost 38-36 last season at Stanford and were smashed, 45-16 the last time these two played at Autzen Stadium in Eugene in 2015 (ORE -7). Stanford will also be playing its 9th straight week after having an Off Week the weekend of Sept. 9, so the Cardinal could be tired and Autzen is an awfully tough place to win, even with McCaffery and Love.

 

Positive Stanford ATS Trends: 6-0 ATS L6 vs Oregon St., 4-0 ATS L4 vs Oregon State at Home; 4-0 ATS L4 at Oregon; 7-1 ATS L8 vs UCLA, 3- 1 ATS L4 vs UCLA on Road; 3-1 ATS L4 vs Arizona, 5-1 ATS L6 vs Arizona Away.

 

Negative Stanford ATS Trends: 0-3 ATS L3 vs Notre Dame; 1-3 ATS L4 vs Washington

 

Big Upset of Stanford Potential: Arizona over Stanford (AZ +5½, Golden Nugget Games of Year) at Arizona Stadium in Tucson, Week 9, Oct. 29).

 

Stanford Players to Watch: RB Christian McCaffrey, Heisman Trophy candidate (337 rushes,2,098 yards, 8 TDs in 2015); RB Bryce Love, DL Solomon Thomas, S Zach Hoffpauir.


Stanford Regular Season Schedule (and Predicted Result)
Week 1—Sept. 2 vs.Kansas State (W, 1-0)
Week 2—Bye Week
Week 3—Sept 17 vs. Southern Cal (W, 2-0)
Week 4—Sept. 24 vs. UCLA (W, 3-0)
Week 5—Sept. 30 vs. Washington (L, 3-1)
Week 6—Oct 8 vs. WASHINGTON STATE (W, 4-1)
Week 7—Oct. 15 vs. Notre Dame (L, 4-2)
Week 8—Oct 22 Colorado (W, 5-2)
Week 9—Oct. 29 vs. Arizona (L, 5-3)
Week 10—Nov. 5 Oregon St. (W, 6-3)
Week 11—Nov. 12 vs. Oregon (L, 6-4)
Week 12—Nov. 19 vs. California (W, 7-4)
Week 13—Nov. 26 vs. RICE (W, 8-4)


Golden Nugget, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook Games of Year Odds
Week 1—Sept. 2 vs.Kansas State (STAN -16, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)
Week 3—Sept 17 vs. Southern Cal (STAN -6, Golden Nugget)
Week 4—Sept. 24 vs. UCLA (STAN Pick ‘em, Golden Nugget)
Week 5—Sept. 30 vs. WASHINGTON (WASH -3, Golden Nugget)
Week 7—Oct. 15 vs. Notre Dame (ND -3, Golden Nugget)
Week 9—Oct. 29 vs. ARIZONA (STAN -5½, Golden Nugget)
Week 11—Nov. 12 vs. OREGON (ORE -3½,Golden Nugget)
Week 12—Nov. 19 vs. CALIFORNIA (STAN -10, Golden Nugget)


Really Tough Schedule, Finding New QB Could Create Problems
Stanford opens up the Regular Season against Kansas State at Stanford Stadium in Stanford, California on Friday Sept. 2 (FS1, 9 p.m. EDT/6:00 p.m. PDT; Betting odds: STAN -16, KSU, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) in a great opener despite the double-digit point spread for Head Coach David Shaw (42-24-1 ATS) and his 71 returning Lettermen. And a Loss in this opener—and it could be dicey against a Bill Snyder-coached (25th year) Wildcats team, even in the Golden State—and Stanford (20/1 to win BCS Championship at Bovada) has a very tough schedule, with tough 3- and 5-games stretches and a Regular Season schedule which sees Stanford facing six straight Bowl teams. That, a newish Offensive Line (Tunnel Workers Union) and the inexperience at the crucial QB spot probably leads to an average Record in the end despite McCaffrey (5/1 to Win Heisman Trophy, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) probably making a run at the Heisman Trophy but maybe losing out because of some East Coast, Midwest and South bias, so buyer beware in the new Heisman Trophy betting marketplace, open for the first time in Nevada this coming season. But remember, there’s only one Heisman winner.

On Defense, MLB prospect (Arizona Diamondbacks) and S Zach Hoffpauir and SL Solomon Thomas head a solid unit but everyone the Cardinal face this season can score. Stanford has five very tough Road games to deal with—UCLA, Washington, Notre Dame, Oregon and Cal in its big rivalry game—and it would surprise few if the Cardinal went 1-3 or even 0-4 in those games. Stanford will have to do everything perfect this year to top probable Season Win Team Totals and stay or fight to be in the CFP National title hunt, but the QB question mark, having McCaffery vulnerable and obviously to be keyed on, having a target on their backs from being Conference champs 3 of the L4 and this nasty schedule means a 9-3 season may be deemed a success, despite the Bowl draw. And again, watch that opener against Kansas State as the Wildcats (KSU Money Line +500, 5Dimes) could very well upset Stanford in Week 1 at Stanford Stadium despite the Home Site advantage and the current double-digit 16-point spread, so the Cardinal best be ready from Day One. It seems like a much rockier road in 2016 for Stanford.


STANFORD PREDICTED REGULAR SEASON RECORD: 8-4
NCAAF STANFORD FREE WEEK 1 PICK: Kansas State +16 over Stanford at GTBets
NCAAF STANFORD FREE GAMES OF YEAR PICKS: Washington -3 over Stanford—Week 5; Arizona +5½ over Stanford—Week 9; Oregon -3½ over Stanford—Week 11 (Golden Nugget)
NCAAF STANFORD FREE FUTURES BOOK PROPS BET PICK: Christian McCaffrey to Win Heisman Trophy 5/1 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)