Pac-12: UC Davis Aggies

We continue with our series looking at each Pac-12 team’s nonconference opponents in 2014. (Note, we'll take a break from the series for a couple of days to focus on media days coverage. We'll pick up with UCLA on Friday).

STANFORD

UC Davis Aggies, Saturday, Aug. 30
  • Coach: Ron Gould (5-7), second year
  • 2013 record: 5-7, 5-3, Big Sky
  • Returning starters: Eight offense, six defense
  • Offensive headliner: Running back Gabe Manzanares was the Big Sky newcomer of the year season, rushing for 1,285 yards and 10 touchdowns. He also earned third-team all-conference honors along the way.
  • Defensive headliner: An all-conference honorable mention last season, linebacker Steven Pitts posted 74 stops, including a team high 11.5 tackles for a loss. He also had four sacks to go with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
  • The skinny: Cal fans might recall Gould from his days with the Bears, where he helped develop, among others, Marshawn Lynch, Jahvid Best and Shane Vereen. The Aggies return four of five starters on the offensive line and a talented running back in Manzanares. The defensive line needs to be rebuilt and they have to replace quarterback Randy Wright. Expect Davis to rely heavily on the run game.
Army Black Knights, Saturday, Sept. 13
  • Coach: Jeff Monken, first season
  • 2013 record:3-9, Independent
  • Returning starters: 10 offense, 16 defense (that’s not a typo, that’s what they list).
  • Offensive headliner: Running back Terry Baggett led the team with 141 carries for 1,113 yards and eight touchdowns last year, averaging 7.9 yards per carry and 92.8 yards per game.
  • Defensive headliner: Defensive lineman Mike Ugenyi led all of Army’s defensive linemen last year with 39 stops, including 6.5 tackles for a loss and a sack.
  • The skinny: Despite the coaching change, the Knights will continue to run the triple-option. Monken tallied a 38-16 record when he was at Georgia Southern and advanced to the FCS semifinals three times before helping the team transition into the Sun Belt Conference and FBS play. Army didn’t exactly give Stanford trouble last year. But it wasn’t a walk-over for the Cardinal, either.
At Notre Dame Fighting Irish, Saturday, Oct. 4
  • Coach: Brian Kelly (37-14), fifth year
  • 2013 record: 9-4, Independent
  • Returning starters: Five offense, five defense
  • Offensive headliner: Center Nick Martin, recently added to the Rimington watch list for the nation’s best center, missed spring ball recovering from a knee injury last season. But when he’s healthy, he’s one of the best in the country.
  • Defensive headliner: Cornerback KeiVarae Russell returns after posting 51 tackles last year, including 1.5 for a loss. He had one interception and led the team with nine passes defended while also recovering a fumble.
  • The skinny: This will be the first of three games between Pac-12 schools and Notre Dame, who face Arizona State and USC in November. The last time these teams played in South Bend, well, you remember. It was a controversial ending that kept the Irish undefeated. But it also fueled the Cardinal’s Rose Bowl run. No doubt, David Shaw & Co. haven’t forgotten.
Thoughts: The Cardinal have an unusual layout to the first half of their season. They open with a nonconference game and then have a conference game in between the other two for the first six games. They have the Trojans in between Davis and Army and a trip to Seattle in between Army and the visit to Notre Dame. Stanford has some of its toughest games on the road this season -- including trips to Tempe, Eugene and Pasadena, and factoring in a trip to South Bend isn't easy. It’s also probably frustrating for local fans to see the Bill Walsh Legacy game with San Jose State put on hiatus. And hopefully the schools can come to an agreement to bring that game back. But for now, the Cardinal should be able to handle Davis and Army. The Aggies probably won’t provide a very good proxy for the Trojans, so Stanford had best be ready to work in Week 2. The Notre Dame game is just a fun rivalry that will likely feature two ranked teams. There are two wins here for sure, and more than likely a third if the Cardinal can shake off the South Bend demons from 2012.

Week 1 danger in the Pac-10

June, 2, 2010
6/02/10
9:00
AM ET
A bad start stinks. It can be overcome -- see Oregon's implosion at Boise State in 2009 -- but it still stinks.

Every Pac-10 team carried optimism into the summer because that's what teams do. But it is more than likely that after the season's opening weekend at least one team will be 0-1 and just a bit less optimistic.

Which teams are at risk for 0-1? Here's a ranking of first-weekend danger.

1. Washington State at Oklahoma State: Both teams are rebuilding. But the Cougars are rebuilding a program that has been 3-22 over the past two seasons, while the Cowboys are transitioning from a team that has been 18-8 during the same span. Oh, and the Cougars haven't won on the road since 2007.

2. Oregon State vs. TCU (Cowboys Stadium, Arlington, Texas): The Horned Frogs welcome 18 starters back from a team that went 12-1. They almost certainly will be ranked in the preseason top 10. And this one functions as a road game-plus for the Beavers. If the game were played at TCU, then the Beavers would face just 44,000 hostile fans. At Cowboys Stadium, they'll see 80,000. Beyond all this, Oregon State has been a notoriously slow-starting team over the past few seasons, last posting a 3-0 start in 2002.

3. Washington at BYU: BYU is rebuilding, while Washington welcomes back 18 starters, including Jake Locker. Still, this is a road game at a tough venue. Moreover, the Huskies haven't posted a winning season since 2002, while the Cougars have won 43 games over the past four seasons. And, by the way, the Huskies haven't won on the road since 2007 at Stanford.

4. UCLA at Kansas State: UCLA didn't have much trouble with the Wildcats in 2009, winning 23-9, but it's never easy to win on the road. And here's a hunch that Bill Snyder, in the second year of his second tenure in Manhattan, will have a much saltier team in 2010.

5. Arizona at Toledo: Sure, Toledo is a MAC program that welcomes back only 13 starters from a 5-7 team. But the Rockets beat Colorado in the Glass Bowl last year 54-38, and the players figure to be a bit more comfortable with second-year coach Tim Beckman. Moreover, this will be the first test of a rebuilt Wildcats defense.

6. USC at Hawaii: Hawaii has 15 starters back from a 6-7 team, but the Warriors' only chance is if the Trojans spend too much time at a luau on Sept. 1. USC hasn't lost a nonconference road game since 2002.

7. New Mexico at Oregon: New Mexico welcomes back 10 starters from a 1-11 team. Oregon welcomes back 18 from the defending Pac-10 champions, though running back LaMichael James will sit this one out because of an offseason legal scrape. Ducks will win.

8. Northern Arizona at Arizona State: The Lumberjacks are an FCS team that went 5-6 last year. If the Sun Devils lose, the ASU campus in Tempe will be relocated here.

9. UC Davis at California: UC Davis. I C Davis. We all C Davis! But U won't C a Davis win.

10. Sacramento State at Stanford: Not to sound like a know-it-all, but Sacramento isn't a state. Unless you're in a Sacramento state of mind, which might look something like this.

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Thursday, 10/2
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