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Quick Look: No. 13 Stanford Cardinal

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TCU will face Stanford in the Valero Alamo Bowl on December 28th.

NCAA Football: Pac-12 Championship-Southern California vs Stanford Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

TCU is heading back to San Antonio following a 10-3 campaign that led them all the way to a shot at the Big 12 title. While it may be a bit disappointing that the Frogs were left out of a New Year’s Six bowl, there’s nothing to frown about when it comes to TCU’s Valero Alamo Bowl opponent, Stanford.

Stanford’s Record

9-4 (last week, lost to USC in PAC-12 Championship, 31-28). Stanford reached the PAC-12 Championship for the fourth time in the games seven year existence, and came close to upsetting USC for their third title in that same time span.

Much like TCU, two of Stanford’s losses came to the same Top-10 opponent (USC). The Cardinal also suffered a loss to San Diego State early in the season, and dropped a game in November to Washington State.

Highlights of the season for Stanford definitely include a 49-7 pummeling of Oregon, a 30-22 win over Washington (who jumped both Stanford and TCU to reach a NY6 bowl simply for sitting at home last weekend), and wins over both Cal and UCLA.

Key Players

This list could really begin and end with junior running back Bryce Love. The Heisman finalist has rushed for 1,973 yards and 17 touchdowns this season, averaging 8.3 yards per carry over the course of 237 carries. He’s seemingly impossible to tackle, and will be recognized for his achievements by (probably) becoming the fourth Stanford player to finish second in the Heisman voting in the last nine seasons (Christian McCaffery, Toby Gerhart, and Andrew Luck (twice) were all Heisman runner-ups as well).

As Melissa pointed out in her piece about Love heading to New York City, he doesn’t do much as a pass-catcher out of the backfield, but he doesn’t really need to. When you’re that good at just taking the ball and running with it, there’s no need to start moving you around.

Of course, Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello has a stud receiver to throw the ball to anyway in JJ Arcega-Whiteside. Whiteside leads the Cardinal in receptions (43), receiving yards (720), and receiving touchdowns (6) this season, despite missing three games.

On the other side of the ball, defensive tackle Harrison Phillips leads Stanford in tackles, with 100 on the season, 17.5 tackles for loss, and 7.5 sacks. He’s an absolute force up front along the defensive line, and TCU will have their hands full with him.

In the back end of the defense, strong safety Justin Reid leads the team with five interceptions, and he’s second to Phillips in tackles with 97. Cornerback Quenton Meeks is a tall, rangy corner whose size (6-2, 197) means he isn’t going to get pushed around by bigger receivers. It’ll be interesting, though, to see how he fares against some of TCU’s smaller, faster guys, should he wind up across from them.

Alamo Bowl Odds

TCU opened as a 2.5-point favorite over Stanford, and the over/under is currently at 49. Stanford is 6-6-1 against the spread this season, and has hit the over six times. Meanwhile, TCU is 7-6 against the spread, and has hit the over just three times.