The Stanford Cardinal have been been one of the best teams in the Pac-12 for the bulk of the past decade and there’s no reason to expect that momentum to slow down in 2018. David Shaw is 73-22 in his seven years as head coach and has notched double-digit wins in five of those seasons. Heisman-hopeful Bryce Love will be the headliner in 2018, but the defense – which gave up 406 yards per game, including 236 through the air, in 2017 – will be worth keeping an eye on as well.
Cardinal 2018 regular season win total
Over 8.5 (-115)
Under 8.5 (-115)
Odds courtesy of BetDSI Sportsbook.
What Happened Last Year
The Cardinal got off to a shaky 1-2 start, but then K.J. Costello replaced Keller Chryst at quarterback and Stanford found its rhythm. Costello led the Cardinal to five straight wins before an upset loss at Washington State, but bounced back with impressive wins over Washington and Notre Dame, finishing the season 9-4 (7-2) before losing to TCU in the Alamo Bowl.
What Will Change This Year
Stanford’s schedule is always tough since Notre Dame is locked in as a non-conference game and that game happens to be in South Bend in 2018. However, the other two non-conference games – at home against both San Diego State and UC Davis – should be winable for the Cardinal. Yes, San Diego State beat Stanford in 2017, but this year’s matchp will be a home game and the Aztecs no longer have running back Rashaad Penny, who rushed for 175 yards a season ago.
Stanford also gets USC at home and doesn’t have to hit the road until a week four trip to Oregon. The Cardinal do finish with three of four on the road but three of those games – Oregon State, at California and at UCLA – are very winable and the Cal game hardly counts as a road game.
Outlook & Prediction
With Love – who rushed for 1,973 yards and 17 touchdowns last season – and Costello (1,361 yards, 11 touchdowns and two interceptions) returning, the Cardinal should be more potent on offense in 2018. While Stanford does have some holes to fill on defense, a strong running game always helps a team that has questions marks on the other side of the ball.
There’s a solid chance the Cardinal get off to a 3-0 start before hitting the road and with the final three games of the season also looking like wins, betting on the Cardinals to win nine games looks like a good play. Take the over.
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