Prediction: Stanford vs. Duke

September, 8, 2011
9/08/11
6:00
AM ET
PALO ALTO, Calif. -- Since this blog didn't come online until last Friday, and the ESPN.com bloggers post their predictions on Thursdays, you're going to have to take me at my word that I picked Stanford over San Jose State.

Overall: 1-0

Prediction: Stanford.

Why they'll win: I'm going with Stanford, and not because they are 22-point favorites. And it's not because of who they have starting. It's because of who they can put in to replace those starters. The Cardinal are deep -- possibly as deep as they have ever been in the history of the program -- and they're deep on both sides of the ball. A lot of different players tallied vital game experience against San Jose State, and coach David Shaw said he's confident that as many as eight defensive backs can be substituted liberally.

Experience counts: Make no mistake, heat is going to be a factor. Durham, N.C., does not offer the same, cool, breezy afternoons that Northern California does. It was an issue in 2009 when Stanford traveled to Winston-Salem and lost to Wake Forest on a last-minute touchdown. Shaw, then the offensive coordinator, pointed to that game two years ago as an example of how a lack of depth hurt the Cardinal -- noting his team didn't have the same "juice" in the second half that they did in the first. But the Cardinal are deep enough this time around that when fatigue does set in, fresh players with legitimate game experience will be prepared and can spell the starters. Like they did two years ago, the team leaves today to give them an extra day to hydrate and adjust to the time difference.

Difference-maker(s): Expecting a big game from the offensive line. They weren't too pleased with their performance last week. Shaw said there will not be any changes to the lineup, so they have had another week to work together. They are anxious to show people they can be one of the nation's best units.

Out on a limb: I like running back Anthony Wilkerson to put together some good numbers this week. Stepfan Taylor will get the bulk of the work, per usual. But Wilkerson should see plenty of chances once the heat sets in (or if the score gets out of hand). If the line play makes a big jump between weeks 1 and 2, logic and a hunch say Wilkerson (8 carries, 15 yards last week) will do the same.

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