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Opponent Preview - Stanford Cardinal (10/8)

What should we expect from Stanford in 2022?

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NCAA Football: California at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford Cardinal

  • Head Coach: David Shaw (12th Season)
  • 2021 Record: 3-9 (2-7 in Pac-12)
  • Last Meeting: 11/13/2021 - Oregon State 35, Stanford 14
  • Key Returners: QB - Tanner McKee, TE - Benjamin Yurosek & CB - Kyu Blu Kelly

What to Know:

The first 8 seasons of David Shaw’s Stanford career were electric. The Cardinal averaged double-digit wins and routinely played in the Rose Bowl, the past three seasons have been a bit of a struggle for Stanford though. Tanner McKee is a good quarterback when healthy, but the offense was really bad last season and the wheels fell off for their defense at the end of the 2021 season.

Looking at this upcoming season, Stanford has a bunch of returning production and a pathway to be good again. They should have an above average secondary and they do have excellent receivers. In years past Stanford has punished Oregon State’s defense with big-bodied receivers and that could happen again as McKee will be spreading it around to guys like: Benjamin Yurosek (6’5), Brycen Tremayne (6’4), John Humphreys (6’5) and Michael Wilson (6’2).

Stanford has struggled to run the ball the past couple of years, but their offensive line is very experienced and will enter the season with a combined 104 career starts. E.J. Smith (son of Emmit Smith) and Oregon native Casey Filkins will be the teams top two running backs.

Defensively, Stanford needs to take a big step forward if they want to be bowl-eligible this season. Towards the end of last season the Cardinal switched from a 3-4 to a 4-3 and they are sticking with it this upcoming season. Stanford listed just six defensive lineman on their spring roster (3 walk-ons) and their defensive line problems remind me a lot of Oregon State’s D-Line when Jonathan Smith first took over. They seem to basically be using outside linebackers as hybrid defensive ends to make up for their lack of depth and the results could mean more struggles trying to stop the run.

Just looking at Stanford’s strength/weaknesses they seem more like a plucky non-P5 team with a good quarterback and talented secondary/receivers; but with serious questions at the line of scrimmage. You would think that kind of roster would fit a ‘West Coast’ style offense much better, but Stanford will be Stanford and they won’t abandon their pro-style offense. Beaver fans should definitely still fear Tanner McKee and his receiving options though.

Player To Watch

Tanner Mckee - Quarterback

NCAA Football: Oregon at Stanford Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

McKee is a former top-50 recruit and has shown flashes of his immense potential. He missed the Oregon State game last season due to injury, but he was really good and with the talented receivers around him he could be great this season. David Shaw was not shy with the praise this offseason saying “We’ve got a quarterback that’s coming into his own that could eventually be one of the best in America”.


This will be the Beavs second straight road game and mark the end of a tough six game stretch to start their season. Stanford coaches have somewhat blamed Stanford’s past three seasons on Covid and the harsh restrictions their team faced compared to others. It’ll be interesting to see how Stanford fares against USC, Washington and Oregon in the weeks leading up to this contest. Oregon State will obviously lean on their running game and test Stanford’s defensive line. I’ll predict an Oregon State victory here, 27-17.

Game Info

  • Date: Saturday, October 8th
  • Time: TBD
  • Location: Stanford Stadium (Stanford, CA)

2022 Opponent Previews