San Jose Spartans Vs. The Stanford Cardinal

Thearon W. Henderson

San Jose Spartans making a short commute to Stanford Stadium in order to finish what they started in 2012.

Where: Stanford Stadium.

When: 8PM PT.

TV: Pac 12 Network

Radio: KLIV (1590 AM, San Jose), KSJS (90.5 FM, San Jose), XM 196,

Last year the San Jose Spartans nearly vanquished the Stanford Cardinal in a close 20-17 game. That Stanford team went on that went on to win the Pac-12 championship and a BCS bowl. The 2013 Stanford team loses leading receiver/tight end Zach Ertz. They lost their other tight end Levine Tiololo to the Atlanta Falcons in the 2013 draft. They return 4 starters on the offensive line which is among the best in the nation, but they are protecting game-managing quarterback Kevin Hogan who overthrows receivers anytime he throws over 20 yards. Leading running back Stepfan Taylor is also gone.

San Jose returns all of its offensive firepower except for Ryan Otten and starting running back De'Leon Esckridge. Their defense shut out the Sacramento State Hornets in their last game.

People are probably thinking that San Jose will do better this time right? At least looking at the face of it, it seems like an experienced San Jose Spartan offense will score a few points against Stanford right? Let's see what Oddsshark.com says...

Stanford is the 25-26 point favorite, they opened at 20 point favorites.

What. What? WHAT?!? Seriously? SERIOUSLY?

I'm going to be sitting in the stands this Saturday and I'm expecting a great game. This is going to be a close game, with no more than a two score difference, and here's why...

When San Jose State Has The Ball

San Jose State played a very conservative game in Week 1. David Fales made a lot of deep throws last week with very few of his bread and butter intermediate throws. The tight ends got only 2 receptions, and almost all yards on the ground were gained running up the middle. San Jose will start to open up it's offense this week, and we'll start to see what Ron Caragher's new offense really looks like. San Jose should get a lot more momentum going with 10-15 yard passes mixed in with those 30 yard spirals down-field. San Jose's running game might get stuffed, but running back Jason Simpson will probably still get a lot of carries just to keep Stanford honest. Jimmy Durkin of the San Jose Mercury News was tweeting recently that even a short run game could be pretty awesome for the San Jose Spartans:

Ron Caragher is a big fan of a power running game, so the running game should have a little more variety this game, though what good that will do against the Stanford front 7 remains to be seen...

When Stanford Has The Ball

Kevin Hogan outperformed Josh Nunes in the later half of the season and grabbed the starting position. He did it more by offensive consistency than by any sort of wow factor. I watched some game film, and he does a great job of avoiding the pass rush and picking up 10 yards by air or by ground... but that's about it. He doesn't throw a lot of deep balls, and when he does he more often than not overthrows receivers. He will probably try to do the same against the San Jose Spartans, but even with the vaunted Stanford Defense, if it's a quarterback dual Kevin Hogan will lose 99 times out of 100.

Will Stanford's run game be any good this year? Yes. That's not really a good question. Jeeze. Seriously, their offensive line is really good and even my un-athletic self could pick up a few yards through the holes they open up.

Overall

San Jose has had 10 days to work out those first game jitters, Stanford hasn't played yet. San Jose's defense is opportunistic and has a good chance to take advantage of any mistakes Stanford makes. This game will be close though because Stanford is still a great, top ten team until proven otherwise. Stanford's athleticism alone, on both sides of the ball, will make any game against them at least a close one, and at worse a nightmare.

San Jose wins 29-24.

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