Stanford Betting Odds Preview
When head coach Jim Harbaugh left Stanford for the pros, many observers expected Stanford to return to mediocrity, or worse. Instead, new head coach David Shaw has guided the Cardinal to two straight Pac-12 championships and consecutive Rose Bowls.
So that's 46 victories over the last four seasons for a program that not too long ago struggled just to become bowl-eligible. This year Shaw has his work cut out for him, having to replace six starters on offense and several key people on defense, while playing a very tough schedule. But hey, Stanford loves a challenge, right?
Stanford started last year 5-0, with wins over Arizona State and Washington, but then fell at Utah as a touchdown favorite. The Cardinal then ground out three more wins in a row, over UCLA, Oregon State and Oregon, but lost at USC. Stanford then exploded for 63 points in beating Cal for the fourth time in a row, topped Notre Dame, then pounded the Sun Devils on their home field to win a second-straight Pac-12 championship game. But the season ended on a down note with a tough loss to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl. So the Cardinal finished 11-3 SU, 7-7 ATS.
Stanford is now 34-7 SU in three seasons under Shaw, 24-15 ATS.
This year Stanford returns just 12 starters, second-fewest in the conference. Five starters are back on offense, including QB Kevin Hogan and WR Ty Montgomery, but they'll have to replace 1,700-yard rusher Tyler Gaffney and three of the big boys along the offensive line. Seven starters return on defense, including three-quarters of the secondary.
This year's schedule borders on brutal. The Cardinal host USC in Week 2, but from there play five Pac-12 road games, against the likes of Washington, Arizona State, Oregon and UCLA. They also visit South Bend to play the Irish. With their starting QB and most of the defense back Stanford will again be tough, but a fifth straight season of at least 11 victories against this slate might be a tough task.
Pac-12 Championship Odds at Bovada as of August 5
Arizona State 12/1
Oregon State 33/1
Washington State 50/1
As last season progressed the Oregon Ducks became huge favorites to win the Pac-12 North and go to the BCS title game. But the Stanford Cardinal had other ideas. And following an upset victory in Eugene, a conference championship game win over UCLA, and a Rose Bowl victory over Wisconsin, the Cardinal stood as the top program in one of the top conferences in college football, the Pac-12. Now the trick for Stanford is to do it all again.
Stanford had 13 starters back last year, but none of them were named Andrew Luck, which makes what the Cardinal accomplished all that more impressive. Stanford struggled just a bit for the first month or so, though; they actually got out-gained in a 20-17 win over San Jose State, and after “upsetting” USC they blew a late lead and lost at Washington. The Cardinal then needed overtime to beat Arizona, then couldn't score an offensive touchdown in a 20-13 overtime loss at Notre Dame. But then things started to click, and Stanford won out, beating four ranked teams in a row, including No. 1 Oregon in Eugene and UCLA back-to-back, to win the Pac-12 title.
The Cardinal then out-gutted a very similar Wisconsin team 20-14 for their first Rose Bowl victory since they were still called the Indians back in 1972. So Stanford finished 12-2 overall, 9-1 in Pac-12 play, and 7-5-2 ATS, thanks in part to a +9 turnover ratio. This year the Farmers return 14 starters; six are back on offense, led by QB Kevin Hogan and four along the offensive line, and eight are back on what should once again be the best defense in the league. But Stanford will have to replace 1,500-yard rusher Stepfan Taylor and last year's top four pass catchers. The Cardinal open this season with non-conference games against San Jose State and Army, then begin defense of their Pac-12 championship with a home game against a dangerous Arizona State squad.
Stanford's toughest stretch comes a little later on, when it hosts UCLA, then visits Oregon State, then, in the game that might decide the North Division, hosts Oregon on a Thursday night. That's followed by a road game at USC, and they later end the season with a revenge bout with Notre Dame, this time at home. The key difference this season between Stanford and Oregon, as far as winning the North goes, might be that while the Cardinal has to play both Southern Cal and ASU, the Ducks miss both.
Pac-12 Championship Odds at 5Dimes as of August 11
Oregon State +1050
Arizona State +1100
Washington State +6000