Everybody starts the season undefeated. But the cruel reality of college football is that only a handful of those teams have a legitimate chance of winning the 2017 College Football Playoff.
There are some elements that point toward the Stanford Cardinal being a strong CFP contender. This program ranks at the top of its division and third in the Pac-12 in number of four- or five-star (41) and ESPN 300 (32) recruits signed over the past five seasons. The Cardinal are also tied for third in the conference in number of returning starters on offense (eight) and defense (eight) and are tied for second in overall returning starters (16).
As powerful as those factors are, Stanford has too many things going against it to be considered a legitimate CFP candidate in 2017.