Sure, it’s just July. But it’s never too early to talk college football. Here’s your daily fix — our eighth annual countdown of the preseason Top 25, as selected by the American-Statesman sports staff. Last season’s four College Football Playoff semifinalists were rated Nos. 3, 6, 13 and 24 on our 2015 list.
Today’s team: No. 8 Stanford (Related coverage: Shaw: Stanford quarterback battle will be about results, not stats)
The Cardinal will contend if … they fill several holes — most notably on the offensive line and at quarterback — while keeping junior running back Christian McCaffrey in contention for the Heisman Trophy.
INSIDE THE CARDINAL
Coach: David Shaw (sixth year, 54-14)
2015: 12-2, 8-1 in the Pac-12; beat Iowa in the Rose Bowl 45-16
Returning starters: 5 offense, 5 defense
The key game: Oct. 15 at Notre Dame
Hello: RB Christian McCaffrey; WR Michael Rector; DB Quenton Meeks
Goodbye: OL Joshua Garnett (San Francisco 49ers); QB Kevin Hogan (Kansas City Chiefs); TE Austin Hooper (Atlanta Falcons)
Spring cleaning: Stanford had five players taken in the NFL Draft, including three — offensive lineman Joshua Garnett (49ers, 1st round), tight end Austin Hooper (Falcons, 3rd) and offensive tackle Kyle Murphy (Packers, 6th) — spent time blocking for running back Christian McCaffrey in 2015. … Stanford’s 2016 recruiting class, was rated 16th best in the country by 247Sports’ composite poll. … Senior defensive back Zach Hoffpauir returns to the secondary after skipping the 2015 season to play baseball in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ farm system.
Passing: Keller Chryst, 5-9-59 yards, 1/0 (2nd)
Rushing: Christian McCaffrey, 337-2,019-8 (1st)
Receiving: RB Christian McCaffrey, 45-645-5 (1st); WR Michael Rector, 34-559-7 (2nd)
Tackles: DB Dallas Lloyd, 55 (3rd)
Sacks: OLB Mike Tyler, 5 (2nd)
RETURNING ALL CONFERENCE (1)
Offense: RB Christian McCaffrey (1st team RB, RET)
- Stanford’s only Heisman Trophy was won by quarterback Jim Plunkett in 1970, but McCaffrey — the second-place finisher in last year’s voting — should contend again this season. McCaffrey set a school record with his 2,019 rushing yards and accounted for the school’s best (243 yards vs. UCLA), sixth-best (207 yards vs. USC) and seventh-best (206 yards vs. Oregon State) rushing performances. Oddly enough, he only had eight rushing touchdowns.
- Hogan was drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs, but the four-year starter won’t be forgotten on or off the field (Stanford’s quarterback coaching position has been endowed in his honor). Keller Chryst, a junior, threw for 156 yards and two touchdowns in the spring game while senior Ryan Burns had two touchdown tosses and 153 yards.
- Stanford has gone 10-3 at home over the last two seasons, and the toughest of its six home games this year will be against preseason-ranked USC and Washington State. Stanford lost only once at home from 2010-13.
Stanford's 2016 schedule
|Date||Opponent||Last yr's result (if played)|
|Sept. 2||Kansas State|
|Sept. 17||USC*||W, 41-31|
|Sept. 24||at UCLA*||W, 56-35|
|Sept. 30||at Washington*||W, 31-14|
|Oct. 8||Washington State*||W, 30-28|
|Oct. 15||at Notre Dame*||W, 38-36|
|Oct. 22||Colorado*||W, 42-10|
|Oct. 29||at Arizona*||W, 55-17|
|Nov. 5||Oregon State*||W, 42-24|
|Nov. 12||at Oregon*||L, 38-36|
|Nov. 19||at Cal*||W, 35-22|
|* Pac-12 game|
Stanford: The last 5 years
|2015||12-2 / 8-1||21st / 3rd||Rose Bowl, W|
|2014||8-5 / 5-4||11th / —||Foster Farms Bowl, W|
|2013||11-3 / 7-2||4th / 11th||Rose Bowl, L|
|2012||12-2 / 8-1||21st / 7th||Rose Bowl, W|
|2011||11-2 / 8-1||7th / 7th||Fiesta Bowl, L|
|Total||54-14, 36-9||5 bowl games (3-2)|
2015 NATIONAL RANKS
Scoring: 18th (37.8 ppg)
Scoring defense: 32nd (22.6 ppg)
Passing yards: 76th (211.8 ypg)
Rushing yards: 19th (223.7 ypg)
TOP 25 SO FAR …
No. 8: Stanford
No. 7: Coming Sunday. Want a hint? This school just had 12 players taken in the 2016 NFL Draft, including three in the top 10.
5 schools: Pac-12 (8-Stanford, 14-USC, 17-Washington, 21-Oregon, 25-Washington State)
3 schools: Big 12 (13-TCU, 19-Baylor, 22-Oklahoma State); SEC (9-Tennessee, 12-Ole Miss, 16-Georgia)
2 schools: ACC (20-North Carolina, 23-Louisville); Big Ten (15-Michigan State, 18-Iowa)
1 school: AAC (11-Houston); Mountain West (24-Boise State); Independents (10-Notre Dame)