No. 8 Stanford (0-0, 0-0 Pac-12) vs. Kansas State (0-0, 0-0 Big-12)
Vihan Lakshman: Stanford 24, Kansas State 10
The Cardinal have a history of starting off slow in opening games, and the Wildcats, who return nine starters on defense, will make points hard to come by for a retooled Stanford offense. However, Lance Anderson’s defense, in the words of Christian McCaffrey, will indeed come out and “shock the world” with a suffocating performance. Meanwhile, the WildCaff breaks free in the second half with several explosive plays, Trenton Irwin and Dalton Schultz emerge as major threats in the receiving game and new quarterback Ryan Burns makes a couple of clutch throws down the stretch to help the Cardinal pull away in a physical, bare-knuckle affair.
Michael Peterson: Stanford 31, Kansas State 13
Another year, another season opener against a purple-uniformed team named the Wildcats. However, this time around the Cardinal achieve a different result. Stanford’s defense becomes the story as they shut Kansas State out in the first half on the way to a dominating performance that sees the offense just squeak over the 30-point threshold for the 14th straight game. With Kansas State determined to limit Christian McCaffrey, Ryan Burns takes advantage of the opportunity and shines in his first game as the starting quarterback, throwing for over 250 yards and adding a pair of passing touchdowns.
Do-Hyoung Park: Stanford 20, Kansas State 17
It’s just Stanford’s luck that the Cardinal open the season against the one team in the country that is known for stubbornly sticking around in close games even when they’re completely outmatched on the field. Just ask Oklahoma State, TCU or Baylor, all of which squeaked by K-State by one score last season despite the Wildcats having a really down year. K-State returns the vast majority of an experienced, talented defense that should have a fighting chance against an inexperienced Stanford offensive line, and I think this is going to be a disheartening first game for the Cardinal that’s finally decided on a Conrad Ukropina field goal as time expires.
Andrew Mather: Stanford 24, Kansas State 22
This game seems like more of a trap to me than most people realize. As Do mentioned, Bill Snyder’s teams are infamous for rising to the level of their competition (even when the difference between them and their competitor, on paper, seems insurmountable). Combine that with Stanford’s tendency to snooze a little in season openers and I think the Wildcats will come out looking more like the team that’s racked up at least eight wins in four of the last five seasons instead of the one coming off a 6-7 year. Speaking of six-win regular seasons, how many of the people who have decided to call this game early also think Stanford’s matchup with Washington, a team that caught the injury bug much less thoroughly than the Wildcats, has also been predetermined? Sure, the same number of W’s doesn’t automatically make teams comparable, but Kansas State’s 2015 record really wasn’t bad considering how youthful they were and that they literally had to play a wide receiver at quarterback for parts of the season. With some of last season’s casualties, like quarterback Jesse Ertz and top-notch kicker Matthew McCrane, finally back in action and other players having gained crucial collegiate experience, I expect Kansas State to give Stanford a heck of a game, with the Cardinal’s big game prowess ultimately proving the only difference.
Nicky Sullivan: Stanford 30, Kansas State 17
The Wildcats will do enough to keep the game close early, but Stanford will be able to pull away some in the second half. Ryan Burns will struggle some behind an offensive line that looks very average and gets pushed around some early by the Wildcats front seven. But Christian McCaffrey will put up a big game, including a long return early in the second half that helps give Stanford a two-possession lead. The Stanford defense, meanwhile, will harass a Kansas State offensive line featuring four new starters, shutting down the Wildcats offense in the second half.
Alexa Philippou: Stanford 24, Kansas State 16
Stanford’s offensive line will struggle to gel in the unit’s first contest of the season, one that features an experienced front seven from the ‘Cats. That won’t stop Christian McCaffrey being Christian McCaffrey, though, as he’ll be the pulse of the offense and have one touchdown of 40-plus yards. Stanford’s defense will fare well for most of the game, but will give up a touchdown early in the fourth quarter to bring things within one possession. A defensive stand with a fumble recovery by Zach Hoffpauir in his homecoming game will seal the season-opening win.
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