At long last, the college football season is upon us. Starting this Saturday, NCAA Football gets underway as two seeded teams, South Florida and Stanford, look to build on their successes from last season. Stanford, in particular, is an extremely interesting team to follow early on due to the loss of their phenomenal running back Christian McCaffrey. Although Rice is expected to be a below average team this season, Stanford could potentially struggle adjusting to life without their best player from last season being on the current roster.
Stanford, led by coach David Shaw, is looking to build off of the 2016 season where the team won ten games including a bowl game victory over North Carolina. According to various sportsbooks, Stanford is expected to regress a bit and is only expected to win around eight or nine games this season. The main reason for the small regression is due to the loss of Christian McCaffrey, who I eluded to earlier. Replacing McCaffrey will be junior running back Bryce Love along with fellow junior Cameron Scarlett. Both running backs have the capability to generate big plays on the ground. However, they are not nearly as skilled as McCaffrey in terms of catching passes out of the backfield which could be a potential problem for the team going forward.
In addition to the loss of McCaffrey, this team has lower expectation than usual due to the resurgence of USC in the Pac-12. USC, led by Heisman hopeful quarterback Sam Darnold, is expected to compete for an NCAA Football championship this season and is favored over Stanford to win the Pac-12 conference. USC can play an extremely important role in Stanford’s first game against Rice because of their clash on September 9. Stanford is in danger of overlooking Rice and focusing heavily on their USC match-up the following week. If Stanford does not pay enough attention to Rice, they could potentially be upset.