While Stanford is a modest 7-5, all five of the team's losses came against ranked opponents, with three of the defeats coming by a three-point margin.
Despite being without top offensive weapon Ty Montgomery, the Cardinal won, 31-10, at No. 8 UCLA in their regular season finale Nov. 28.
Here is an early look at Stanford in advance of the game, which will be played Dec. 30 at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California:
Stanford is led by senior quarterback Kevin Hogan, a McLean, Va., native and Gonzaga College (D.C.) graduate who is in his third season as a starter. While the Cardinal are ranked just 87th nationally in scoring offense, Hogan has thrown 37 touchdowns against only 18 interceptions the past two seasons, and he is completing 65.7 percent of his passes this year. Hogan was 16 of 19 for 234 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions in leading Stanford past UCLA. The 6-foot-4, 230-pound senior also rushed for 46 yards on seven carries.
The area the Cardinal have seemingly taken a significant step back is running the ball. Led by senior Tyler Gaffney, Stanford rushed for an average of 207 yards per game last season while averaging five yards per carry. After losing Gaffney and standout offensive linemen Cameron Fleming and David Yankey, Stanford is running for an average of just 154.8 yards per game and averaging an unexceptional 4.3 yards per carry this year.
The Cardinal may also have to play again without Montgomery, a potential early-round NFL draft pick next year who has twice as many catches (61) as anyone else on Stanford’s roster. Cardinal coach David Shaw told reporters recently that Montgomery is questionable for the Foster Farms Bowl due to a shoulder injury that sidelined him against UCLA.
Another player of note on Stanford’s offense is 6-foot-7, 315-pound junior left tackle Andrus Peat, a first-team All-Pac 12 selection and second-team Associated Press All-American.
Stanford is ranked second nationally in scoring defense, sixth in sacks, seventh in pass defense and 11th in rush defense.
The Cardinal allowed 45 points to an Oregon offense that ranks among the best in the country. Aside from that, Stanford limited its other 11 opponents to an average of just 13.4 points per game despite facing some capable offenses such as UCLA, California, Arizona State and Notre Dame.
The Cardinal held UCLA, which is ranked 22nd nationally in total offense, to 262 yards of total offense. Bruins star quarterback Brett Hundley was 17 of 32 for 146 yards.
The week before, California, which ranks 15th in total offense, had five turnovers during a 38-17 loss to Stanford.
Oregon is the only team to score more than 26 points against the Cardinal. Arizona State is the only team besides the Ducks to post more than 20 points versus Stanford.
Senior defensive end Henry Anderson, senior safety Jordan Richards and inside linebacker Blake Martinez are probably the Cardinal’s three biggest difference makers on defense.
The 6-foot-6, 290-pound Anderson, whom NFLDraftScout projects to be a fifth- or sixth- round draft pick next year, has 62 tackles, 14 tackles for a loss and 7 ½ sacks.
Richards, a projected third- or fourth-round draft pick, is third on the team with 76 tackles. He also has three interceptions and three forced fumbles.
A 6-foot-2, 250-pound junior, Martinez leads the Cardinal with 96 tackles and has six tackles for a loss, 4 ½ sacks, three interceptions and two forced fumbles.
Montgomery is Stanford’s primary kick and punt returner and is one of the nation’s most dangerous return men. He is averaging 25.2 yards per kick return, 19.8 yards per punt return and has returned two punts for touchdowns.
Stanford’s kicking game has been average. While 37 of kicker Jordan Williamson’s 61 kickoffs have gone for touchbacks, the senior is just 14 of 20 on field goals.
Punter Ben Rhyne is averaging only 39.9 yards per punt.