College football kicks off this week and the PAC-12 has 2 of the 5 games being played. The Stanford Cardinal, one of the conferences powerhouses, will be taking on the Rice Owls while the Oregon State Beavers will start their season against the Colorado State Rams.
Stanford closed out the season strong last year with a big boom in offensive production thanks to budding star Keller Chryst (pictured). The young QB is coming off a severe knee injury but all reports from camp have been positive and he’s set to start the season opener.
Stanford’s real concern is how they will move on from dynamic playmaker Christian McCaffrey who they lost to the NFL. McCaffrey was the team’s number one rusher and their deadliest receiver/return man accounting for the majority of Stanford’s points and yardage just last season. Without his talents the offense may struggle at first but most of their starters shall be returning. Among them is receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside (above) who quickly became the top target for Chryst when he took over under center. The Cardinal also have all five of their starting lineman returning, which means there should be a consistent and comfortable pocket for Chryst all season.
On the defensive side of the ball Stanford has one of the best back defensive sevens in the country and besides the loss of 3rd overall pick Solomon Thomas their defensive-line remains intact. David Shaw should once again have one of the most talented defenses in the country and they will capitalize on the smallest of mistakes made by opposing offenses. Stanford defeated Rice last season 41-17 and with most of Stanford coming back, the score may be even worse this time around.
Unlike Stanford, Oregon State is coming off of their lost cause of a season where they finished 4-8 and failed to find any traction throughout the year. The Beaver defense was lacking in skill last season and while the offense is talented, it lacks consistency.
What the Beavers do have is an extremely talented coach who has led the way for statistical improvements on both sides of the ball, in Gary Anderson (above). Entering his third year this roster is now full of players he recruited and Oregon State find themselves in a position to make a little noise. Anderson knows how to get the most out of his players which was seen at Utah State and Wisconsin last year. The Beavers return most of their players and with a solid recruiting class they have a serious shot at making a bowl game. While Colorado State wasn’t bad last year, they simply don’t have the same amount of talent as the Beavers do. If Anderson’s players avoid the mental mistakes that hindered them so much last season they should handle Colorado State with ease and start their season off in the right direction.
Cover Photo via The San Francisco Chronicle
Article Photos via SF Gate and Portland Tribune