No. 15 Stanford (1-1, 0-1 Pac-12) vs. Army (1-0)
Michael Peterson: Stanford 51, Army 10
Unfortunately for Army, the Black Knights march into town to face a motivated, angry Cardinal team that feels like it could, and should, have won last weekend against USC. Cal knows a little something about playing an angry Cardinal team after last year’s 63-13 drubbing, which came directly after Stanford’s loss to USC, and certainly wouldn’t envy the Black Knights’ position at the moment. Stanford’s front seven really didn’t struggle all too much against Army’s triple option last year, and I doubt this year’s unit will either. The biggest storyline for Cardinal fans to monitor may be the performance of the offensive line and Stanford’s ability to run the ball up the middle. If the Cardinal can rediscover their typical bread-and-butter power running, it will bode well for improved red-zone efficiency heading into one of the season’s tougher stretches against Washington and Notre Dame. Expect an all-around crisp performance out of Stanford.
Ashley Westhem: Stanford 45, Army 13
In Tuesday’s press conference, David Shaw pointed out that the “players are always more resilient than the coaches.” The rest of this season and particularly against Army, we are going to see a lot of resilience from this Cardinal team because despite the mistakes made against USC, they know what it takes to be a competitor at the highest level. I don’t care that Stanford is just playing Army, it would pummel anyone it came across this weekend to prove that it is the high-caliber program that Stanford has come to be known as. The Cardinal linebackers have been in sync at practice and playing as one unit, which will be key against Army’s triple-option and rush offense which looked solid in their win last week, though their passing game leaves more to be desired. Defensively, Army allowed 39 points and 554 yards in its season opener so if the Card offense can take advantage of Army’s defensive inefficiencies, it should be a cake-walk.
Vihan Lakshman: Stanford 34, Army 7
New Army head coach Jeff Monken beat Florida with then-FCS Georgia Southern last season, so the Black Knights should be able to take Stanford, right? I really like where Army is going and I don’t think it will be long before they turn the tide against Navy, but Stanford matches up too well for the Cadets at this point. The Cardinal should be able to bury a lot of offensive frustrations against a Black Knights’ defense that gave up 39 points to Buffalo in week 1.
Army scores early in the game as the Stanford defense adjusts to the triple option, but the Card quickly pull ahead behind a revived running game and a potent play action threat. Fifth-year senior safety John Flacco takes the field in the fourth quarter to one of the loudest ovations Stanford Stadium will see all season.
George Chen: Stanford 41, Army 10
Unless Stanford’s offensive line commits a penalty on every play of the game (which sadly might not be all that shocking after the number of times the unit has been flagged the last two games), this contest will not be close. The current state of Nerd Nation is not one of happiness and prosperity: The players are angry, the coaches are ticked and Stanford fans are predicting an apocalypse, a toned-down version of what Alabama fans were doing two weeks ago when the Crimson Tide only beat West Virginia by 10 points. In all seriousness, though, I want to see the Cardinal establish its running game between the tackles, something they haven’t been doing well so far this season. Outside of that, I don’t really care how Stanford wins. What’s most important on Saturday is for Stanford to come out on top without suffering any injuries from Army’s cut blocks. Also, wouldn’t it be awesome if John Flacco got his own entrance scene out of the tunnel? Something like this, but with Flacco, Flacco and Flacco instead.
Do-Hyoung Park: Stanford 48, Army 14
After the loss to USC, fans were calling for David Shaw’s head despite his 35-8 overall record and analysis showing that the head coach wasn’t to blame as much as people thought in the heat of the moment. This is the chance for the coaches and the team to redeem themselves in the eyes of grossly disappointed Stanford fans that turned out in droves to watch Stanford lose a game that it by all accounts should have won last Saturday. And redeem themselves they will, with Kevin Hogan and the offense scoring early and often, and the defense bending but not breaking against the triple option. An undersized Army squad is just what the doctor ordered to get the offensive line rolling smoothly, and there’s just so many mismatches all over the field for Stanford to exploit in all facets of the game. In my dream scenario, John Flacco comes in at quarterback in the fourth quarter and runs the triple option to perfection, simultaneously making the game infinitely more entertaining yet infinitely more boring. That’s obviously never going to happen, but a man can dream, right? How about a Flacco pick six?