Looks like the Cardinal is Here to Stay
When Andrew Luck left Stanford a year early for the NFL, the temptation was to wonder if the Cardinal’s run as one of the Pac-12 powers was also going along for the ride.
The heights to which the Stanford program has grown the last few years, though, became evident as the 2012 season progressed.
Shaking off an early stumble at Washington and a controversial defeat at Notre Dame, the Cardinal stormed through the second half of the season to win the Pac-12 North, Pac-12 title game, and the Rose Bowl — all behind the steady guidance of redshirt freshman quarterback Kevin Hogan.
With Hogan joining a roster with 14 returning starters — eight off a defense that should be among the best in the nation — the Cardinal seems primed to extend a run that has seen the school play in the Orange, Fiesta and Rose bowls in the past three years.
Along the way, head coach David Shaw has gone 2-for-2 in winning Pac-12 Coach of the Year honors, establishing himself as more than just a caretaker for the program he took over when Jim Harbaugh left for the 49ers.
Stanford also gets a somewhat favorable schedule that includes a home game against the team that looms as their most dangerous threat — Oregon.
The Ducks also return enough key players off a team that won the Fiesta Bowl last season to rate, again, as a national title contender.
The big unknown is the impact of the loss of head coach Chip Kelly to the Philadelphia Eagles, with former offensive coordinator Mark Helfrich taking over. Kelly made a similar leap himself in 2009, stepping up to take over for Mike Bellotti, so the Ducks are banking on history repeating.
And Kelly left Helfrich with a full cupboard that includes quarterback Marcus Mariota, dynamic running back/receiver De’Anthony Thomas, as well as seven starters on defense, including the entire secondary.
If there is a possible challenge to those two in the Pac-12 North, it might be the Washington Huskies, who appear positioned to finally break through in the fifth year under coach Steve Sarkisian. While UW may be a chic underdog, though, it was Oregon State that actually finished ahead of the Huskies in the North last year, and should again be a dangerous foe for anyone.
Our choice to face Stanford in the Pac-12 title game, is UCLA — which would be a third straight appearance in the game for the Bruins, and a rematch of last year’s game.
UCLA was one of the most-improved teams in the nation for much of 2012 under first-year coach Jim Mora before
a late-season fade that included two straight losses to Stanford (regular season finale and conference title game) and a loss to Baylor in the Holiday Bowl.
But it’s far from a comfortable perch for UCLA. USC has as many highly-touted signees on its roster as anyone in the nation. Arizona State, on the rebound under second-year coach Todd Graham, could also contend. Arizona, in its second year under Rich Rodriguez, also will be dangerous, as long as the Wildcats can find a quarterback.
|OFFENSE – FIRST TEAM||OFFENSE – SECOND TEAM||OFFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|QB||Marcus Mariota||So.||Oregon||QB||Brett Hundley||So.||UCLA||QB||Kevin Hogan||So.||Stanford|
|RB||Ka’Deem Carey||Jr.||Arizona||RB||Silas Redd||Sr.||USC||RB||Marion Grice||Sr.||Arizona State|
|RB||Bishop Sankey||Jr.||Washington||RB||Storm Woods||So.||Oregon State||RB||Christian Powell||So.||Colorado|
|WR||Marqise Lee||Jr.||USC||WR||Kasen Williams||Jr.||Washington||WR||Josh Huff||Sr.||Oregon|
|WR||Brandin Cooks||Jr.||Oregon State||WR||Paul Richardson||Jr.||Colorado||WR||Shaq Evans||Sr.||UCLA|
|TE||Austin Seferian-Jenkins||Jr.||Washington||TE||Chris Coyle||Sr.||Arizona State||TE||Colt Lyerla||Jr.||Oregon|
|C||Hroniss Grasu||Jr.||Oregon||C||Isaac Seumalo||So.||Oregon State||C||Jake Brendel||So.||UCLA|
|OL||Xavier Su’a-Filo||Jr.||UCLA||OL||Grant Enger||Sr.||Oregon State||OL||Max Tuerk||So.||USC|
|OL||David Yankey||Sr.||Stanford||OL||John Martinez||Sr.||USC||OL||Jake Fisher||Jr.||Oregon|
|OL||Cameron Fleming||Sr.||Stanford||OL||Evan Finkenberg||Sr.||Arizona State||OL||Michael Philipp||Sr.||Oregon State|
|OL||Jeremiah Poutasi||So.||Utah||OL||Elliott Bosch||Sr.||Washington State||OL||Fabbians Ebbele||Jr.||Arizona|
|AP||De’Anthony Thomas||Jr.||Oregon||AP||Brendan Bigelow||Jr.||Cal||AP||Ty Montgomery||Jr.||Stanford|
|PK||Vince D’Amato||Sr.||Cal||PK||Andrew Furney||Sr.||Washington State||PK||Jordan Williamson||Sr.||Stanford|
|DEFENSE – FIRST TEAM||DEFENSE – SECOND TEAM||DEFENSE – THIRD TEAM|
|DL||Will Sutton||Jr.||Arizona State||DL||Cassius Marsh||Sr.||UCLA||DL||Jaxon Hood||So.||Arizona State|
|DL||Henry Anderson||Sr.||Stanford||DL||Ben Gardner||Sr.||Stanford||DL||Andrew Hudson||Jr.||Washington|
|DL||Scott Crichton||Jr.||Oregon State||DL||Leonard Williams||So.||USC||DL||Deandre Coleman||Sr.||Cal|
|LB||Morgan Breslin||Sr.||USC||DL||Wade Keliikipi||Sr.||Oregon||DL||Trevor Reilly||Sr.||Utah|
|LB||Anthony Barr||Sr.||UCLA||LB||Eric Kendricks||Jr.||UCLA||LB||Travis Feeney||So.||Washington|
|LB||Trent Murphy||Sr.||Stanford||LB||Carl Bradford||Jr.||Arizona State||LB||Brian Blechen||Sr.||Utah|
|LB||Shayne Skov||Sr.||Stanford||LB||Shaq Thompson||So.||Washington||LB||Jake Fischer||Sr.||Arizona|
|DB||Dion Bailey||Jr.||USC||DB||Deone Bucannon||Sr.||Washington State||DB||Jared Tevis||Jr.||Arizona|
|DB||Ifo Ekpre-Olomu||Jr.||Oregon||DB||Terrance Mitchell||Jr.||Oregon||DB||Sean Parker||Sr.||Washington|
|DB||Ed Reynolds||Sr.||Stanford||DB||Rashaad Reynolds||Sr.||Oregon State||DB||Eric Rowe||Jr.||Utah|
|DB||Alden Darby||Sr.||Arizona State||DB||Yuri Wright||So.||Colorado||DB||Jordan Richards||Jr.||Stanford|
|P||Darragh O’Neill||Jr.||Colorado||P||Keith Kostol||Jr.||Oregon State||P||Michael Bowlin||Sr.||Washington State|