Stanford plays host to Kansas State on Friday night, and the Cardinal have designs on Pac-12 glory and beyond in 2016. They left 2015 with a Pac-12 title and emphatic win in the Rose Bowl, but this is a team that is Playoff quality and needs to avoid the bumps that have messed them up in years past.
It's all systems go for Stanford this year. They must replace quarterback Kevin Hogan, but they have a trio of blue-chip recruits waiting to grab the job. They do face some questions in the trenches, however, but they've produced such a long and steady flow of good offensive and defensive linemen that it's hard to be that concerned. This team is rightfully the favorite in the Pac-12, even if they're not perfect.
Kansas State wasn't particularly good in 2015. They did scrape out six wins, though, and they return with a little more experience than they had last year. A little more explosiveness would certainly help their cause, but the Wildcats just need to perform better this year. Opening the season on the road against Stanford is hardly setting yourself up for a positive start, though.
Bill C.'s big previews
Bill C.'s big previews
How to watch, stream and listen
TV: 9 p.m. ET, FS1
Online streaming: FOX Sports GO
Spread: Stanford opened as a 16.5-point favorite.
Three big things to know
1. Can Stanford avoid the early mistake?
Last year, Stanford lost its first game of the season when they laid an egg against Northwestern. This year, they're at home for their opener, but it's against yet another purple team that will absolutely go and snatch a win if you let them. Stanford is obviously the better team, but take Bill Snyder and Kansas State lightly at your own peril.
2. Does Bill Snyder have one last revival left in him?
Snyder's legacy has been assured for a long time now, but Kansas State is in the midst of a slide that might spell the end of his long and illustrious career. After winning 11 games in 2012, the Wildcats have finished with eight, nine, and then six wins over the last three years. I don't think anyone would put it past him to engineer another strong run, but if it's going to happen, it should probably start this year.
3. Another season of the Christian McCaffrey show starts now.
The do-everything Stanford running back is probably the most entertaining player in the country. His ability to destroy opponents as a runner, receiver and returner is unmatched by anyone else in the country. How can he follow up on his Heisman finalist season in 2015? Well, he could win the trophy this time.
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