I Love the Only Defensive Team in the Pac-12

The Pac-12 schedule gods like the Cardinal.

Oregon?  Oh, you want them at the Farm?  Check.

Crummy teams on the road?  How about Washington State and Colorado?  Check.

Dangerous Pac-12 South games at home?  No problem.  UCLA and Arizona have to visit you.  How’s that sound?  Check.

One tough road game, sorry you can’t have everything.  Yes, the Trojos early on at the Coliseum.  Sorry, but that’s the only schedule hiccup to which you have to consent.  Cool?  Check.

My model breaks Stanford’s Pac-12 schedule down like this:

  • Too close to call @ USC, Model Score: 33 – 33
  • For sure win @ Oregon State, Model Score: 41 – 25
  • Should win, Home vs. Arizona, Model Score: 38 – 28
  • Too close to call, Home vs. UCLA, Model Score: 35 – 31
  • For sure win, Home vs. Washington, Model Score: 41 – 25
  • For sure win, @ Washington State, Model Score: 43 – 23
  • For sure win, @ Colorado, Model Score: 42 – 24
  • Too close to call, Home vs. Oregon, Model Score: 30 – 36
  • For sure win, Home vs. Cal, Model Score: 40 – 26

Only Oregon has more “for-sure” win margins than Stanford – in my model.  Any of the following would be BIG upsets (to me):

Oregon State, Arizona, Washington, WSU, Colorado or Cal.  I think Stanford looks good in all six (6!) of those games.  Maybe Arizona gets them, but I don’t think so – at the Farm.

Too-close to call games:

At USC is a BIG game.  Win that and you set a serious tone.  Lose it and you still have a schedule that allows you some serious room to improve.

UCLA is close, but not as a close as USC.  Stanford could be 3 – 0 or 2 – 1 when they host the Bruins.

After that?  Patsies.  Until Oregon.  My model makes that a six-point game.  Less than a touchdown and I pick Stanford.  Ignoring last year, Stanford plays the anti-Oregon game as well as anyone except Ohio State.  Great defense (especially winning 1st down) and a running game – these force the Ducks to play a bloody slog for 48 minutes.  They don’t like to play that long – especially against the offensive and defensive fronts of Stanford’s big uglies.

3 Possible Scenarios for Stanford

  • A Pac-12 defensive team in the national playoffs.  Stanford gets by SC early, runs the table (maybe a single loss to Zona or the Powder Blue Brus) and welcomes the Ducks to the Farm for the North title game.  Punishing those Ducks like they like to do, the Cardinal plays whoever survives the South (take your pick of everyone but Colorado) for the Pac 12 title.  Win that and you’re in the Final Four.
  • Good, but you’re looking at Duck backsides.  Lose to SC, drop another one before you play Oregon.  Oregon comes in without a Pac-12 loss and the game doesn’t matter (to Stanford).  Ducks win the North (yawn) and Stanford goes to some no-name Bowl.
  • Bad, lose to SC, lose to Arizona and UCLA consecutively.  Now you’re 1 – 3, heading into the Washington schools.  Split those, beat Colorado (God help you if you drop one to the Buffs) and the Oregon game is your only chance at redemption.  3 & 4 in the Pac-12 before you get the Ducks.  That’d be ugly.  Only thing worse would be to give the Berkley campus a jolt with a death-rattle.

We’ll know a lot about Stanford after the SC game.  Their defense is always good.  How good?  Let’s see what they do against a very solid (and varied) offense.  Stanford’s offense has lots of room to improve since last year.

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