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Breaking Down the 2013 Stanford Cardinal Football Schedule

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Breaking Down the 2013 Stanford Cardinal Schedule

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Stanford Cardinal are just two years removed from the Andrew Luck era and that doesn’t at all mean a lack of success. In fact, the year after Luck graduated, the Cardinal finished the 2012 season with a Rose Bowl victory and talented quarterback Kevin Hogan emerged as the team’s No. 1 guy.

Losing running back Stepfan Taylor will be a tough blow as well as the loss of tight end and big target Zach Ertz. These two guys played a huge role in the offense last season and quietly made it one of the most reliable groups in the nation.

While the Cardinal had a decent offense last season, they also had one of the nation’s top defensive units. Ranking 11th nationally in scoring defense, Stanford had one of its best seasons on that side of the ball in quite some time.

With a pretty favorable upcoming schedule in 2013, the Cardinal will surely make yet another run at roses. Beating up on Wisconsin in last year’s game in Pasadena meant that this team would be okay without Luck and former head coach Jim Harbaugh in their second season under the new head coach.

David Shaw has emerged as one of the best young coaches in the nation. Not having the same talent that Harbaugh had with Luck, among others, Shaw was given a team with a few solid pieces and turned them into a winning machine.

The tight end became a major part of the offense, but now that the top-two tight end targets are gone, it looks like the offense will start incorporating more wide receiver targets. Either way, the Cardinal’s defense will be solid and the offense will be improved.

Let’s see how they stack up against the competition in 2013.

Connor Muldowney is a columnist for Follow him on Twitter @Connormuldowney, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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Sept. 7: San Jose State

san jose state
Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

San Jose State was a bit of a surprise in 2012 with an 11-2 finish. With a returning core of players including quarterback Nick Fales, they should be just as impressive in 2013. However, they are under new coaching leadership and will need some time to adjust to the new plays.

PREDICTION: San Jose State 14, Stanford 35

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Sept. 14: at Army

Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports

Army was flat out awful last season, finishing 2-10 under Rich Ellerson, but it is returning 15 starters from that squad and could make this game interesting -- but probably not.

PREDICTION: Stanford 41, Army 10

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Sept. 21: Arizona State

arizona state
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State is returning 14 starters from last season, including starting quarterback Taylor Kelly. However, losing Cameron Marshall from a top rushing attack will not work in the Sun Devils favor in this matchup.

PREDICTION: Arizona State 20, Stanford 31

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Sept. 28: at Washington State

washington state
Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Leach is one of the newest coaches in the Pac-12, but leading the Washington State Cougars may just be a little more than he can handle. The Cougars finished 3-9 last season and had one of the worst scoring offenses in college football. It will take a mammoth effort to pull off a huge upset at home.

PREDICTION: Stanford 34, Washington State 3

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Oct. 5: Washington

Steven Bisig-USA TODAY Sports

Washington will be one of their first real tests in the 2013 season. The Huskies are coming off a 7-6 season with a bowl victory and they are also returning 17 starters. They are losing just a few key defensive pieces, but offense needs to improve mightily if they want to have a chance in this one.

PREDICTION: Washington 13, Stanford 21

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Oct. 12: at Utah

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Returning your starting quarterback is always a good thing and that's exactly what the Utah Utes have the please of. The defense is losing a lot of key pieces which will be tough to overcome -- and don't forget the lackluster offense that Utah ran out there last season.

PREDICTION: Stanford 28, Utah 16

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Oct. 19: UCLA

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

UCLA is returning some big names on offense including quarterback Brett Hundley and wide out Shaq Evans. These two guys will be a devastating combination in 2013 and could possibly exploit the talented Stanford secondary.

PREDICTION: UCLA 27, Stanford 30

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Oct. 26: at Oregon State

oregon state
Douglas C. Pizac-USA TODAY Sports

The Oregon State Beavers were one of the most improved teams in 2012, coming off a three-win season in 2011, they finished 9-4 last year. The Beavers' defense was a strong point on this team, but losing the top-two defensive tackles on the team will hurt them, especially against Stanford's possibly potent rush attack.

PREDICTION: Stanford 24, Oregon State 17

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Nov. 7: Oregon

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Good thing for the Cardinal is that they have all of their toughest games in 2013 at home. Oregon comes into town looking for a battle of top-10 teams and the game will surely go down to the wire. Great offense against great defense, but who has the advantage? Defense.

PREDICTION: Oregon 21, Stanford 24

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Nov. 16: at USC

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

This could be a trap game of sorts for Stanford. It goes Los Angeles, looking to extend its record to 10-0, but the USC Trojans will just be too talented offensively and the Stanford defense will be a bit lost when trying to man up with Marquise Lee.

PREDICTION: Stanford 27, USC 35

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Nov. 23: California

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

The California Golden Bears were just terrible last season, finishing with a 3-9 record and leaving their fans yearning for the days when Aaron Rodgers was the quarterback and Jahvid Best was at running back. Under a new regime with Sonny Dykes as head coach, there's nowhere for this team to go but up.

PREDICTION: Cal 9, Stanford 33

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Nov. 30: Notre Dame

notre dame
Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off a national title appearance in 2012 should be enough to call Notre Dame a championship favorite, but they are losing far too many key pieces. Also, traveling to Stanford is no easy task for any team, and the new-look Fighting Irish will quickly find that out.

PREDICTION: Notre Dame 17, Stanford 27