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#22 Stanford Cardinal Preview – 2014

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Stanford Cardinal Preview – 2014

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Reminder for first time readers: The CFBMatrix is built on simplicity. For predictions and previews I use only my trends and rankings of Talent, Location (schedule) and Coaching. T.L.C.


No one in the Pac 12 has seen their average recruiting class change so dramatically over the last decade as the Stanford Cardinal. Routinely a program that pulled classes ranked the 40s and 50s, the new norm are high teen, low 20s classes, with a No. 5 mixed in the last five years. The Cardinal have one of the lowest attrition rates in college football and reach further out per player, with an average distance from home of over 1,300 miles, than any roster in football. Coming off our No. 15 class for 2014, Stanford has the No. 21 talent profile in the CFB Matrix for 2014.


There is no question that coach David Shaw is among the best head coaches in college football. His CFB Matrix Coach Effect ranks him No .9 and Coach Result is No.2. On The Farm, he is nearly unbeatable, posting a 93 percent win rate when I pick him to win in the pre-season predictions. He has won every home game that I picked him to lose. Couple that with an 82 percent road win rate when picked to win and you have a very consistent head coach. If Shaw can keep Stanford in the top 20 of recruiting, he will be a threat to win the Pac 12 North every season.

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Stanford had one of the best schedule profiles of 2013. A top-10 schedule in difficulty, they were fortunate to have Oregon, Washington, UCLA and Notre Dame all at home. This year, those are all road games with the one scheduling benefit being able to host USC at home. Those four games were predicted home wins in 2013, are now road loses in 2014. However, Shaw is batting .500 on the road when I predict a loss, so It is likely that he gets at least one if not two of those four games. I have the Cardinal with the No. 14 national strength-of-schedule and No. 3 in the conference. Other than two cupcakes, there is nothing easy about the schedule.

Pair of Cupcakes: Weeks one and three give the Cardinal a pair of tune-up games at home against UC Davis and Army. Both of these should be blowouts and provide an opportunity to rest starters and get young players some valuable experience.
Four at Home: Three of their home games–Washington State, Oregon State, and Utah–all have such a talent gap behind Stanford, I don’t care where these games are played, I have the Cardinal to win them. The huge home game is with USC in Week 2. The Trojans have a bunch back on offense and Stanford lost nearly 70 percent of its defensive production from 2013, along with its defensive coordinator. The plus side is coach Steve Sarkisian of USC had a terrible road record at Washington. The talent alone is normally a straight -up pick for the Trojans, but I am taking the Cardinal by the slightest of margins due to Coach Effect.

Six on the Road: Washington, Notre Dame, Arizona State, Oregon, Cal and UCLA are all on the road and all are played in the last nine games of the season. Their four predicted losses on the season are from this group. Even the predicted wins over Arizona State and Cal are not going to be easy. Both teams have talent and the Sun Devils have been well coached since Graham’s arrive in the desert.

Two Times the Pain: After the first three games at home, Stanford plays three of its next four on the road. That combination is always a tough profile in any schedule. However, they get a three on the road, one at home split again over the last four games of the season. For a little added pain, Stanford plays at Oregon, for what I feel is the division title game, at the end of six straight games with the matchup being the fourth road game during that stretch.

Traps: In a college football schedule, with so many non-conference games and two byes a season, finding a ‘trap’ game is tough. Getting an overlooked, talented team with good coaching on the schedule before an even bigger game is hard to find. For Stanford, I see three games that could fit the mold. The Cardinal get to go to Seattle to face the Huskies the weekend before their trip to Notre Dame. Washington is very talented and new coach Chris Petersen has a track record of very good game coaching. This is my favorite of the three and I am taking UQ. My second trap is hosting Oregon State. They are very well coached, and if my predictions are correct, the following game is at Oregon for the division. The Beavers will be easy to overlook, especially at home. Look ahead to the Ducks, and the Cardinal could lose both. Cal, in spite of being under-talented and under-coached to date, presents a road problem in Week 13 as UCLA looms in the season finale.


Dave’s Quick and Dirty CFBMatrix Preview:

The Cardinal have nine games on their schedule with a better talent rank in the CFB Matrix for a 9-3 baseline record. They have a college football=leading three games that switch from what would be predicted home wins to losses in the CFB Matrix for a 6-6 talent/schedule profile. The last component is coaching and Shaw averages +1.67 games per year above talent/schedule projections. I am taking Cal and USC to be those two games in 2014 to boost the final CFB Matrix projected record to 8-4.

2014 Win Loss Schedule Pattern

W, L, W, bye, L, L, W, W, W, L, bye, W, W, L (+2 games coach effect for Shaw – USC & Cal)  Record projected 8-4 2nd(t) in the PAC 12 North

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