Can the Cardinal win it all?

June, 5, 2012
6/05/12
6:00
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The Insider folks have been counting down 20 teams that can win it all and ESPN Insider K.C. Joyner takes a stab at why Stanford could -- or couldn't -- win a BCS championship.

The Cardinal check in at No. 10 on the 20-team list . (USC and Oregon also made the list. )

First, why they will win it all:
  • They can run
  • There isn't much drop-off in the receiving corps
  • Great front seven

Writes Joyner:
To get some perspective on just how dominant the Cardinal's defensive front seven were last year, consider that Stanford ranked third in the nation in rushing defense and 11th in sacks per game.

That type of statistical achievement should be the goal in 2012 as well, since the Cardinal return six of their starting front seven, including two who were first- or second-team All-Pac-12 selections (linebacker Chase Thomas and defensive lineman Ben Gardner).

Why they won't win it all:
  • Tough schedule
  • Secondary could be a weakness
  • Not a team built for shootouts

Writes Joyner:
Having a combination of bad coverage in the secondary, a low BDR and a lack of ballhawkers on defense is terrible no matter what league a team plays in, but it is especially troubling in a Pac-12 conference that has a slew of terrific passers and ranked second among BCS conferences in scoring offense last year. If the Stanford pass rush has even one game where it is unable to protect the secondary, it could be the factor that leads to a loss that ends the Cardinal's BCS title hopes.

The post also examines Stanford's most likely final record, their projection window and examines the Cardinal's swing games.

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