Stanford enters the 2016 college football season without four-year starting quarterback Kevin Hogan, leaving head coach David Shaw and offensive coordinator Mike Bloomgren with a group of quarterbacks (Ryan Burns & Keller Chryst) with a combined ten career pass attempts.
Three starters on the offensive line are also gone, together with two of the Cardinal’s top 3 wide receivers from 2015. The key returnee on Stanford’s offense is Heisman Trophy hopeful Christian McCaffrey, who will make life a lot easier for either Burns or Chryst (both playing Friday, with Burns expected to get the majority of snaps).
Despite the attrition on offense, Stanford is led by one of the best head coaches in college football and has the talent to be considered a legitimate national title contender. The main obstacle for the Cardinal is the schedule, which has them playing road games against Notre Dame, UCLA, Washington and Oregon!
For the purposes of Saturday’s game, it should be noted that Stanford is 0-3 ATS in its last three season-openers and face an underrated team in Kansas State.
The Wildcats are coming off a losing campaign for the first time since 2009 and welcome back fourteen starters, including leading rusher Charles Jones and leading wide receiver Deante Burton. Kansas State’s defense will also be significantly improved with seven returning starters, including its top five tacklers from last year. I also like investing on legendary college football head coach Bill Snyder, who is 20-8 ATS as an underdog with ten outright upsets.
Snyder is also an incredible 22-2 SU in season-opening college football games, with only one loss by more than three points. The Wildcats have covered the spread in three straight season-openers and are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as double-digit underdogs.
Snyder’s squad has been first or second in the Big 12 Conference in limiting penalty yards in each of the past five seasons. The Wildcats also led the Big 12 by converting 52-of-55 red zone opportunities.
Kansas State would have been a Best Bet if it were not for the fact that David Shaw is coaching its opponent. Shaw, by the way, is 13-2 ATS as a favorite of 10.5 to 21 points during his tenure at Stanford. Take the Wildcats as Oskeim Sports free college football sports pick for Friday, September 2.
Oskeim Sports’ Week One College Football Free Pick: Kansas State (+15) (-110)