With the season kick-off to Stanford football tonight, the first question is Why? I mean, why tonight? Listen, if you’re going to broadcast a message asking for the fans to come on, and offer a Gridiron Guarantee—refund season tickets to those who are unhappy with their Stanford football experience—you’re sending the message that you want plenty of fan support. If, on the other hand, you move one of your five home dates to a day far before the school year even starts—staff isn’t even training yet!—then you have a problem with fan support, at least with those fans who call themselves students. Part of the idea behind moving the date up was to move from the icky FSN network to ESPN, certainly a worthwhile move to increase exposure. But what worth is the exposure if the stands are half- to three-quarters empty, as is the definite risk? I hope for the best but you never know.
But this is a meta-issue to the real issue, which is this: what will actually happen this season? I’ll admit I don’t now a lot about football, so this is even more speculative than usual, but one thing that should be mentioned is this: we won 4 games in 2007, but we easily could have won fewer. That said, we could have easily won more, too (I’m thinking of you, Notre Dame and TCU!). That makes us like a lot of football teams out there, but it’s especially worth noting in our case because the schedule will be more difficult this year—seven games on the road, five at home. So while we have the most returning starters in the Pac-10, we could easily have a better-performing team, but be worse in terms of wins and losses. However, I’ll admit that I’m mystified as to what to expect this season. When opposing coaches admit they have no idea what to expect, well, I have no choice but to join them.
What we should hope for this season: a bowl game, not too many injuries, and no Andrew Luck playing. If Andrew Luck—the future starting QB, we think—doesn’t play, then that’s doubly good: it means Tavita Pritchard has improved from last year, and it gives Luck a redshirt year to learn the ropes.
In terms of this upcoming game with Oregon State, it should be a difficult matchup. Oregon State has finished well the past few years, and Riley is a good coach. While they may have reconstructed their entire front seven, they also have a lot of athleticism on the offensive side of the ball. If Stanford’s defense improves as much as many people think they will, then we have a good shot. I’m confident in them: Stanford 21 Oregon State 14. Betting Line: Oregon State -3.5.