Second half preview: Stanford

Things to look forward to in the second half of the season.

Bold prediction: Oh, why not? Stanford will beat Oregon. The Cardinal are at home and they have a more diverse offense than they did last year. And frankly, even though no one on the team is saying it, they have to be annoyed by the constant questions about a weaker schedule and the fact that they got jumped by a team on its bye week. This will be a statement game that can't get here soon enough for the players, coaches and fans (not to mention the media that covers the team).

What I'm looking forward to: More of the same. Balanced offense, hard-hitting defense and the opportunity to watch Andrew Luck before he rides off into the NFL sunset. This is a special team that won't be satisfied until it puts a special stamp on this season.

Top three impactful games in the second half:

  1. Oct. 29 at USC: This will be their last big tune-up before the Oregon game. We all know what the tandem of Matt Barkley and Robert Woods has done so far and what they can do when they get cranking. This will be, by far, the biggest test of the year for Stanford's secondary.

  2. Nov. 12 against Oregon: Yep, this is the big one. The one that the nation will be watching. A lot hinges on this game; the Pac-12 North title (more than likely), a spot in the Pac-12 championship game which in turn will lead to an automatic berth in a BCS game -- possibly the national championship. Any win would be a boost in the rankings. A big win could catapult them. David Shaw joked last week "I don't know how you impress a computer." Win this game and the hard drives will be spinning in Stanford's favor. A loss would crush any hopes of a national championship and a BCS at-large bid is not guaranteed.

  3. Nov. 26 against Notre Dame: Assuming business has been handled on Nov. 12, this will be Stanford's last chance prior to the Pac-12 championship game to impress a national audience. Not that anyone wearing Cardinal Red cares, but it will also be one of Luck's final pushes for the Heisman. If business has not been handled and Stanford is sitting out the next week's Pac-12 title game, this will be the final home game for Luck and a cast of seniors that have brought much joy to Palo Alto. Anyone think Luck's going to let them lose?