Congratulations to Eugene Lucero from Denver, Colorado, the winner of last week’s Stanford Daily Football Predictions Challenge, presented by Chef Chu’s.
Stanford (4-3, 2-3 Pac-12) at Arizona (2-5, 0-4)
Samuel Curry: Stanford 27, Arizona 13
It’s very hard to judge who these teams really are at this point. Both have been troubled with injuries, both will have slightly new looks on offense this week and both have perhaps yet to show what they are capable of with or without injuries. Sure, Arizona only has two wins, but they did give Washington their closest game of the season thus far by taking them to overtime — with a backup quarterback nonetheless. On the other hand, there’s the other Arizona team, which goes down 3-21 to Grambling State to start a game. It’s hard to tell which one will show up Saturday, and with two-year starter Anu Solomon potentially returning, we could see a very different team from weeks past.
As for Stanford, many may feel like they know Keller Chryst because he has been in the quarterback mix all season, but a quarterback getting an entire game to get into rhythm is a different animal. Also, Shaw is convinced we haven’t seen what the Cardinal offense is capable of, and so am I.
I think a weak Arizona defense (114th in the nation) makes enough mistakes to eventually give the Stanford offense the confidence it needs to get McCaffrey running wild again and open up the passing game, while the defense contains Anu Solomon and Brandon Dawkins enough to only give up a few big plays and bend but ultimately not break.
Andrew Mather: Stanford 30, Arizona 10
I’ve been pretty thoroughly on Team Chryst for a while now, and I think he’ll do a lot to improve the Stanford offense when he takes the field this weekend. I’m intrigued by what a bit of vertical passing could add to this unit’s prospects, and if nothing else, the relatively limited set of information about Chryst should make it more difficult for the Wildcats to prepare for the Cardinal.
Stanford’s defense, meanwhile, looks to be back to its early-season self after the return of Quenton Meeks, and I don’t think they’ll have too much trouble containing a struggling Arizona offense. I feel a bit hesitant to throw around the word “blowout” after seeing how this team has performed in recent weeks, but I actually think that might be what we’re looking at here. The Cardinal offense matches its touchdown total for the last four games, and Stanford’s defense contains whoever starts under center for the Wildcats. Oh, and while we’re having fun, let’s say that for a third consecutive Stanford game, at least one side records a safety.
Lorenzo Rosas: Stanford 23, Arizona 10
As horrible as I think the Stanford offense will perform, I’m almost equally — if not more — down on the Wildcat defense, which has been absolutely atrocious after dropping a nail-biting overtime effort against the now-No. 4 Washington Huskies. The Wildcats have allowed 223 yards per game on the ground, giving up 5.3 yards per carry, along with allowing prolific passing yards throughout their entire season, which could provide the spark and momentum for the Cardinal offense to create drives and finish them.
In my opinion, I could see Christian McCaffrey having his way with this struggling defense in Tucson and could show flashes of brilliance that Cardinal fans have been waiting for this entire season, which is why I predict a booming performance behind first-time starter Keller Chryst. While McCaffrey obviously won’t solve the struggles that plague this Stanford offense, any momentum would be huge coming off perhaps the most dismal Stanford performance since before Harbaugh’s tenure.
On the other side of the ball, the Cardinal defense has been suffocating as of late, with the return of starting cornerback and ballhawk Quenton Meeks bolstering this imposing core. Barring a major malfunction on Saturday, I’m confident that Stanford’s defense can halt an injury-stricken Wildcats’ core that lacks running back Nick Wilson for this game. Overall, this game shoufld (hopefully) provide a relatively easy road test that the Cardinal can build on in the next coming games.
Vihan Lakshman: Stanford 20, Arizona 17
The Stanford offense is all out of sorts right now, and there’s very little evidence to suggest that a change in quarterback will magically cure the Cardinal’s end zone allergy. However, with Lance Anderson’s defense hitting its groove, any offensive performance north of the “totally abysmal” category will give Stanford a chance. The return of quarterbacks Brandon Dawkins and Anu Solomon will add to the potency of Rich Rodriguez’s offense, but the absence of star running back Nick Wilson means that the Wildcats will again be operating without all of their claws.
In a tight, low-scoring contest, the Cardinal hold on behind a fast start from Chryst and another stellar defensive performance against a shorthanded Wildcat side. Much like Stanford’s victory in South Bend, the Cardinal will find a way to secure a road victory without necessarily answering all of the lingering questions surrounding this team.
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