Friday, January 6, 2012
Breaking down next year's games
By Kevin Gemmell
Well, apparently I rattled up quite the hornet's nest a couple of days ago in the mailbag by taking the under in a reader question wanting to know my opinion on the over/under for 8.5 for wins for Stanford next season.
Most seemed to think I was being too harsh and that nine or 10 wins were more likely than the seven or eight wins I'm forecasting. (This total doesn't include a bowl game, mind you).
OK, I'm not afraid to show my work on a way-too-early analysis of each game. Naturally, this is based off the personnel we know is available, the assumption there are no catastrophic injuries and little more than gut feelings.
Sept. 1 vs. San Jose State: Cardinal will be multi-touchdown favorites and will cruise behind a monster running attack. Good game for the new signal caller to get his feet wet. Win (1-0).
Sept. 8. vs. Duke: Offense won't be as vanilla as the week before as they start adding new elements for the first-year starting quarterback. There will be a couple of mistakes, but Geoff Meinken will stiff-arm the Cardinal to a comfortable victory. Win (2-0).
Sept. 15 vs. USC: I don't see this as a blowout that some seem to think it will be. The Cardinal will control the clock with the rushing attack and David Shaw has always been a very good play-caller against USC. But the Matt Barkley-led Trojans finally get a win over Stanford. Loss (2-1).
Sept. 22 Bye: Good time to recover from first loss of the year and prep for first road trip of the season.
Sept 27 at Washington: What? You mean we have to play outside of California? Tough place to play and Keith Price is only getting better. Maybe the Huskies will have some defense to speak of? No Chris Polk hurts, but the Cardinal still won't be able to keep up. The one thing that might sway this is Stanford coming out of the bye week. But I wouldn't expect 446 rushing yards this time around. Loss (2-2).
Oct. 6 vs. Arizona: Students are finally back on campus and realize there is a football game. Not sure what to make of the Rich Rodriguez Wildcats yet, but Stanford should be the better team and getting Arizona earlier in the season is always helpful when a new coaching staff is involved. Win (3-2).
Oct. 13 at Notre Dame: I'm expecting the Irish to have their third quarterback controversy of the season by this point. Stepfan Taylor has a huge game on the road and continues to be the most underrated running back in the conference. Cardinal pull this one out. Win (4-2).
Oct. 20 at Cal: A Big Game before Halloween? Spooky. New quarterbacks are always good for at least one road loss in games they are favored to win. Given the magnitude of this game, this might be that one. Loss (4-3).
Oct. 27 vs. Washington State: Cougars throw for 400 yards, but Cardinal score more points. Win (5-3).
Nov. 3 at Colorado: Buffs still not ready to make a move. Cardinal cruise. Win (6-3).
Nov. 10 vs. Oregon State: With bowl eligibility locked up, the Cardinal are looking to improve their postseason status. Whoever is playing quarterback has the offense figured out and Taylor will surpass the 1,000-yard mark for the third straight year. Should be a great way to honor him on senior night. But this could also be a trap game. OSU played a lot of youth last season that has to grow up sometime. Win (7-3).
Nov. 17 at Oregon: Yeah ... not going to happen. Loss (7-4).
Nov. 24 at UCLA: I think this could be a swing game for both teams. But my best guess is UCLA is still a year away from making real noise. Win (8-4).