The No. 13 ranked Stanford Cardinal are set to open up the season at home against the San Diego State Aztecs. Kickoff is set for 9:00 EST on Friday, August 31st at Stanford Stadium and will be televised on FS1.
Taking a look at the Week 1 college football odds, we see that the Cardinal are currently a 14.5-point home favorite with the total set at 50 points.
Stanford vs San Diego State Vegas Game Preview & Betting Odds
Stanford was able to overcome a disappointing 1-2 start to last season to finish 9-3 in the regular-season. Thanks to a 30-22 win at #9 Washington late in the year, they won the head-to-head tiebreaker with the Huskies and represented the PAC 12 North in the title game. They would go on to lose a heartbreaker to USC 28-31 and followed that up with another crushing 37-39 loss to TCU in the Alamo Bowl to end up at 9-5.
The Cardinal will be entering the 8th season under head coach David Shaw. Stanford has won at least 8 games in each of Shaw’s first 7 seasons on the job and are an impressive 52-15 in conference play during this stretch. While Washington is the talk of the Pac-12 going into the 2018 season, the Cardinal are serious contender with 15 returning starters (9 offense, 6 defense), including talented sophomore quarterback K.J. Costello and senior running back Bryce Love.
The Aztecs are coming off another impressive season under head coach Rocky Long. San Diego State finished 10-3 with their only two losses in the regular-season coming against Boise State and Fresno State, who faced off in the MWC title game. That’s now 3 straight seasons with 10 or more wins for the Aztecs, who have yet to post a losing record in the 7 years Long has been in charge.
There’s plenty to be excited about going into 2018, as San Diego State will have 14 returning starters (7 offense, 7 defense), but they must replace star running back Rashaad Penny, who was drafted in the 1st round by the Seattle Seahawks. Penny earned MWC Offensive Player of the Year in 2017 with 2,248 yards and 23 scores, while averaging 7.8 yards/carry.
College Football Free Pick & Predictions: San Diego St +14.5
I would have to lean towards taking the Aztecs at this price. These two teams played last year at San Diego State in Week 3 and the Aztecs pulled off the upset in a 20-17 win as a 8-point home dog. While they needed a last minute touchdown to pull out that win over the Cardinal, San Diego State deserved the win. They had a massive 41 to 19 edge in time of possession, 21-10 advantage in first downs and outgained Stanford 353 to 254.
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That did come before Costello took over at quarterback and there’s no question Stanford will be out for revenge, but I just don’t see them turning this thing into a blowout. The biggest thing for me is I just don’t think there will be enough offensive possessions in the game for the Cardinal to pull away. The Aztecs are going to take a very similar approach to last year’s contest and try to eat up the clock with the running game and rely on their defense to keep them in the game.
The loss of Penny will likely be the biggest deter from people looking to back San Diego State in this game, but keep in mind there were the same concerns last year when the Aztecs had to replace a 2x All-American back in Donnel Pumphrey. Junior running back Juwan Washington had 759 yards and 7 scores with a solid 6 yards/carry as Penny’s backup last year and had he had the same amount of carries as Penny would have finished with more than 1,700 yards.
With all 5 starters back on the offensive line and an experienced senior quarterback that has started 29 games, I think the Aztecs will be able to move the ball and score enough here to keep this thing within the number.
It’s also worth noting that over the last 2 seasons the Cardinal are just 3-7 ATS as a home favorite and are 8-11 ATS under Shaw when playing with revenge.
Lastly, there’s a strong system in play favoring a fade of Stanford. Teams who won 60% to 80% of their games the previous year and closed out the season with 3 or more straight covers against the spread are just 7-30 (19%) ATS since 1992 in Week 1 when facing a team that had a winning record the previous year.