Note … Previews for CU’s opponents will be posted each week leading up to the start of Fall Camp … Previously posted: Colorado StateNebraskaAir ForceArizona StateArizonaOregonWashington StateUSCUCLA

2019 Game Ten – Colorado v. Stanford, November 9th

Related … “Led by K.J. Costello, Stanford eyes Pac-12 title” … from the Daily Camera

From the Daily Camera … For years, the Stanford football team has been known for its run game.

Stepfan Taylor, Tyler Gaffney, Christian McCaffrey and Bryce Love have all been star running backs for the Cardinal over the past seven years. Led by that group – as well as a stout defense and strong offensive line – Stanford has been one of the elite teams in the Pac-12 for a decade.

For the Cardinal to continue their winning tradition this season, they’ll lean not so much on the run game, but on the talented right arm of quarterback K.J. Costello.

The most highly touted Stanford quarterback since Andrew Luck, who was the No. 1 overall selection in the 2012 NFL Draft, Costello leads a team that, as usual, has its sights set on a Pac-12 title.

“Over this decade, we have changed the lens with which Stanford football is viewed through, which I think is great,” head coach David Shaw, who has gone 82-26 in his eight seasons leading Stanford, told The Athletic.

Continue reading story here

Last game between Colorado and Stanford – October 22, 2016

… Colorado 10, Stanford 5 … 

Game Story … Colorado became bowl eligible for the first time since 2007 with a hard-fought 10-5 win over Stanford. Buff field goal kickers missed three of four field goal attempts, making the game tense throughout, but four turnovers forced by the Buff defense preserved the victory.

Sefo Liufau connected with Shay Fields on a 15-yard score early in the second quarter, providing the game’s only touchdown. Otherwise, Liufau was largely held in check, hitting 12-of-25 for 135 yards, but was picked up by running back Phillip Lindsay, who had 12 carries for 131 yards.

In holding the Cardinal out of the end zone, the Buff defense had three interceptions and a fumble recovery. Tedric Thompson had two interceptions, the second coming midway through the fourth quarter, setting up the Buffs’ field goal. Linebacker Kenneth Olugbode recovered a fumble at the Buff five yard line to snuff out Stanford’s drive to take the lead, with Isaiah Oliver collecting his interception in the final minutes to seal the victory.

Continue reading story here

… Essay for the game … “Changing of the Guard” … can be found here

2018 Stanford results – 9-4 (6-3 in Pac-12 play)

– 2018 Stanford National Rankings (Offense)

— Scoring – 73rd … 28.4 points per game  (Colorado scoring defense – 70th … 27.3 points per game)

— Rushing – 123rd (11th in the Pac-12) … 107.9 yards per game (Colorado rushing defense – 44th … 145.6 yards per game)

— Passing – 25th … 273.1 yards per game   (Colorado passing defense – 74th … 234.7 yards per game)

— Total – 85th (11th in the Pac-12) … 381.0 yards per game  (Colorado total defense – 52nd … 380.3 yards per game)

– 2018 Stanford National Rankings (Defense) …

— Scoring – 37th … 22.9 points per game  (Colorado scoring offense – 79th … 27.1 points per game)

— Rushing – 45th … 146.1 yards per game (Colorado rushing offense – 99th (9th in the Pac-12) … 143.0 yards per game)

— Passing – 115th (11th in the Pac-12) … 264.0 yards per game (Colorado passing offense – 45th … 249.6 yards per game)

— Total – 78th … 410.1 yards per game  (Colorado total offense – 74th … 392.6 yards per game)

Stanford storylines … 

– It’s David Shaw’s World – we just live in it … 

When you are averaging over ten wins per season, you get a great deal of latitude.

Stanford’s David Shaw has posted an overall record of 82-26 in his eight years in Palo Alto, including a 9-4 record last fall. The Cardinal finished the 2018 season on a four-game winning streak, including a win over Pittsburgh in the Sun Bowl.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, even with Bryce Love returning for his senior season to lead the running game last fall, Stanford finished 123rd in the nation in rushing. Love suffered another injury-plagued campaign, forcing Shaw to rely on quarterback K.J. Costello to carry the offense, and Costello answered the bell. Now, Love is off to the NFL, and Costello returns.

Which has led to the following opening lines in the preseason magazines:

  • Athlon … “Stanford is undergoing an identity crisis. The Cardinal used a throwback physical style to win three conference titles in the first six seasons of the Pac-12 … Suddenly last season, Stanford’s power running game disappeared, and so did its invincibility.
  • Lindy’s … “Stanford coach David Shaw faces a major question. Should he try and reinvigorate the power running game that was lacking in 2018? … Or should he switch to a passing game, which provided four wins at the end of a 9-4 season in 2018 after Shaw turned the offense over to quarterback K.J. Costello?”

So, with no Bryce Love and a successful K.J. Costello, is an Air Raid offense coming to Stanford?

Don’t count on it.

“I would love for our persona to be physical and efficient,” Shaw said. “My goal has always been to be balanced. We want to play to our strength.”

How will this play out?

“It’s going to be hard not to throw the ball, but it’ll still be run-first,” said tight end Colby Parkinson. “That’s our identity. The goal is to find the perfect balance.”

With a trio of nine-win (or better) opponents in the first four games (Northwestern, UCF, and Oregon), worshiping at the altar of the power running game may not last the first month of the season.

At least David Shaw knows that he has options …

Players make plays

Quarterback K.J. Costello may need to wear a nametag in the huddle to open the season.

Costello is one of only three – count ’em, three – returning starters on offense for Stanford. The Cardinal does have some talented wide receivers in the lineup, but they are all underclassmen. The top three wide receivers from last fall, including All-Everything JJ Arcega-Whiteside (second-round pick by the Philadelphia Eagles), are gone. The leading returning receiver is junior tight end Colby Parkinson, who had 29 catches for 485 yards and seven touchdowns. Stanford is hoping that Elijah Higgins, the highest-rated prospect in the 2019 Recruiting Class, will have an immediate impact.

Senior Cameron Scarlett (79 carries for 330 yards and eight touchdowns) is the leading returner at running back, but there are issues in returning to a power running game. Only one offensive line starter returns, though four of the five projected starters do have at least three 2018 starts on their resume.

The defense has only five returning starters, with that total including exactly zero linebackers. Stanford loses its top two tacklers, inside linebackers Bobby Okereke and Sean Barton, who had 96 and 92 tackles, respectively. No one else on the team had more than 64 tackles.

The defensive line includes two potential stars in Jovan Swann and Michael Williams, while the defensive backfield features cornerback Paulson Adebo, who was a first-team All-Pac-12 performer last season as a freshman.

How the Buffs fit into the Cardinal 2019 schedule

Last season, Stanford opened well (4-0) and closed well (4-0), but went 1-4 in the middle of the campaign.

If Stanford opens 4-0 this season … watch out.

As noted above, the Cardinal opens this fall with three games in the first four against teams which equaled or bested Stanford’s nine wins last season – Northwestern (9-5); at UCF (12-1); Oregon (9-4).

The fourth game to open the season is against a team which went 5-7 last fall, but we’re talking about a road game … against USC.

A 4-0 start this fall = a high national ranking.

The next set of four games for Stanford is a mixed bag, with a road game against Oregon State followed by three home games, against Washington, UCLA, and Arizona.

Stanford’s game against Colorado in Boulder on November 9th will represent the first road game for the Cardinal since September.

But Stanford will have plenty of opportunity to get ready for their trip the mountains, as the Cardinal has a bye week before playing the Buffs.

Buff fans should know by mid-October whether the home game against Stanford will represent be a possible win … or a game which will require an upset.

Bottom Line

It’s easy to go back and forth on projecting the CU/Stanford game on November 9th.

— Stanford ranked 112nd in rushing last season, there is no Bryce Love in the lineup, and the Cardinal (for a change) doesn’t have an imposing offensive line … but … the Cardinal does have K.J. Costello, who is ranked above Steven Montez on almost everyone’s listing of Pac-12 quarterback talent;

— Stanford ranked 114th in pass defense last season, and loses its top two tacklers … but … the interior defensive line and defensive backfields are strengths;

— Stanford may come to Boulder with a 4-4 record, with four of its first eight games against teams which posted nine or more wins in 2018 … but … David Shaw’s teams always find ways to win eight or nine games, and most of Stanford’s most difficult games will be played at home.

Stanford has an odd schedule. Between October 5th and November 2nd, the Cardinal only plays three games – all at home. The November 9th matchup with the Buffs will be in Boulder, but the Cardinal will be well rested – and well prepared – to take on the Buffs.

It’s not going to be another 10-5 game, as neither team has as good a defense as they did in the 2016 matchup.

If the Buffs are going to post a second consecutive win over Stanford … it will be an upset.


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