The numbers just don't make any sense. Washington State quarterback Connor Halliday is challenging the laws of physics, altering the space-time continuum, and bravely going where no Pac-12 quarterback has gone before.
Washington State head coach Mike Leach employs an Air Raid system that sees his teams throwing the ball roughly 75% of the time, and Halliday is reaping the benefits and rewriting the record books. Against Cal last week -- albeit it in a heartbreaking 60-59 loss -- Halliday threw for an NCAA-record 734 yards on 49 of 70 passing with 6 touchdowns. Look at that number again -- SEVEN HUNDRED AND THIRTY-FOUR yards. (For a little perspective, Kevin Hogan passed for 552 yards in his last three games combined.)
With no game to look forward to this Saturday, now seems like the perfect time to look at the Cardinal's 2015 schedule, released this week by the Pac-12. Far too many things will happen between now and next fall to predict outcomes of any of the games, but let's take a game-by-game trip through the schedule anyway, just for fun. Oh, and keep this in mind as we go -- the schedule sets up perfectly for a run to the playoffs.
Back by popular demand -- or, more accurately, by one person's demand -- is GMC's yearly schedule breakdown. Why wait for the games to be played when you can just read on? As usual, I'll give you my thoughts on each game along with the likelihood of a Cardinal victory, but just for fun I've also assigned a different 80s movie to each matchup. It promises to be entertaining...
August 30 vs. UC Davis Movie: The Sure Thing Quote: "I hope you appreciate the magnitude of your impending good fortune."
I don't know the real reason why UC Davis is on the schedule this year, but it might just be to remind Stanford fans how far the program has come. It was nine years ago that Davis somehow beat Stanford, 20-17, in a game that was surely brought up in the halls of the Stanford athletic department as some voices pushed to drop the football program down to Division II. In less than a decade, Stanford football has gone from being one of the worst teams in the country to one of the nation's elite.
As devastating and shocking as that 2005 loss was, I can't imagine that anyone connected with the 2014 Cardinal is thinking about revenge. No one on the team was even out of middle school at that point, and this team has goals much larger than righting a nine-year-old wrong. This game isn't about revenge, it's about finishing without any major injuries.
I can't imagine that we'll see much from the starters after half time, but while they're in there it'll be interesting to see how the offensive line plays and what the running back rotation looks like. In the second half we should get a look at some of the younger players, including Christian McCaffrey, and the second- and third-string quarterbacks. It'll be fun.
Expected Outcome: This is a sure thing. 100% chance of Stanford victory.
If there were concerns about the Stanford offense prior to Saturday night's 55-17 woodshedding of Washington State, they washed away before the first quarter ended. You'll have to forgive me for referencing a former Stanford coach (who was referencing a classic film), but those who were concerned quickly realized that the Stanford offense was, indeed, fully operational.
I don't have much of an introduction to this week's edition, but the good news is that there's enough great stuff here (courtesy of Longball from the WSU Football Blog) to carry the show. Seriously. (Also, you can hop over there and read my answers to his questions about the Cardinal.) So without further ado, here's the enemy...
Most everyone looking at Saturday afternoon's matchup between Stanford and Washington State had it pegged the same way I did: a big win for the Cardinal. It certainly looked like it was heading that way early on when the Stanford defense took the field against Jeff Tuel and Coach Mike Leach's Cougar offense.
For the first time in what seems like months, the Cardinal can take a breath. Or can they?
One of the things I miss about the 2010 and '11 teams is the Sure Victory. The games where you knew there was no way -- no way in the world -- that the game would even be close. Even though those games are gone for now, it's difficult to complain about a team that's 5-2 and poised to make a run towards 7-2 before facing its next ranked opponent.
But as I said, no win is promised. The Washington State Cougars come to town in desperation mode. They've lost four straight games, two to the ranked Oregon schools, but that streak includes a disturbing 35-34 loss to Colorado, the worst team in the Pac-12, and another to Cal, the team that Stanford just destroyed. The Cougars sit at 2-5 and are yet to win a conference game, but players are still talking about winning four of their last five games and qualifying for a bowl game. Quarterback Jeff Tuel has reclaimed the starting job he lost earlier this season, and spoke with confidence earlier this week. "A bowl game still isn't out of reach, believe it or not. People from the outside looking in can say it is, but it's not with us. With the position I'm in it's my job to take us there, and I'm going to keep believing until it's out of reach."
Even a loss to the Cardinal won't technically put it out of reach, but it would certainly start the music playing on Washington State's season. This is head coach Mike Leach's first season in Pullman, and though I haven't heard any reports of him locking players in closets, but I have to believe the expectations were a bit higher for him and his high-octane Air Raid offense.
The Cougs have been throwing the ball with success, averaging 322.3 yards per game in the air, good for ninth in the nation, but their rushing attack has been predictably anemic. Of even greater concern, however, is their run defense. Two weeks ago they allowed Cal to rush for 318 yards; last week Cal managed less than one percent of that total (three yards) against Stanford.
So looking into my crystal ball, here's what I see: Stanford runs the ball about 50 times, and Stepfan Taylor gets 30 of those carries while gaining somewhere in the neighborhood of 195 yards. Back up tailback Remound Wright might even have a big day with 40 or 50 yards of his own. Stanford 31, Washington State 10.
Then again, what do I know? I can really only tell you one side of the story. For the Cougar side, I checked in with one of GMC's oldest friends, Lucas Nurmi of the WSU Football Blog, who drops some serious Cougar knowledge. (As usual, you can read my answers to his questions about the Cardinal over on his site.) Read on...
Remember in Back to the Future II when Biff stole Marty's copy of Grays Sports Almanac and used the DeLorean to give it to his 1955 self so that he could win every sports bet for the next fifty years? Well, here's the next best thing.
We here at Go Mighty Card have never condoned gambling, but we noticed something recently that caught our attention. Sure, it might be fun to put down some cash on an individual game, then bite your nails to the nubs for three hours before hopefully claiming your winnings, but we've always been more intrigued by the long-term bet, especially because it always looks so easy to make a fistful of money.
One of the earliest reports from Las Vegas has the over/under for the 2012 Stanford Cardinal set at 7.5 wins. On the surface, eight wins seems like a gimme, so I thought I'd take a look at things game by game, putting each match-up into one of three categories: Guaranteed Lock, Toss Up, or Likely Loss.
This is hardly scientific, and by no means a recommendation on how to spend your hard-earned money, but it gives us an excuse to analyze the schedule a bit. As always, feel free to agree or disagree in the comments section. Could it be possible that Stanford could win only seven games this fall? Let's take a look...
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