Pac-12 Football Picks: Predictions against the spread for Week 1

9 of 13

Nov 22, 2014; Berkeley, CA, USA; Stanford Cardinal head coach David Shaw on the sidelines during the third quarter against the California Golden Bears at Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

Stanford Cardinal At Northwestern Wildcats

Ryan Field, Evanston, Illinois

The Line: Stanford -10

Even with a west coast team travelling for an early start time in the east, Las Vegas still gives the Cardinal a decided advantage in this one. That speaks to the respect garnered by head coach David Shaw and the Stanford program. This game will be played at 8:00 AM, Pacific time, on Saturday morning on ESPN, and will put the discipline of the Cardinal to the test. No college kid wants to be up before dawn on a Saturday, but that is exactly what is going to happen for Stanford.

Keys To The Game: 

The Cardinal have the more talented team, and should be able to run all over the Wildcats. Northwestern just does not have the size, strength, or athleticism of Stanford. Given that Shaw likes to run a physical style of offense and it is clear to see what the Wildcats must do.

They have to stop the run early, and hope that Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan has not improved since a shaky 2014 season. If Northwestern allows Stanford to plow the road and run the ball inside, then it will be a long afternoon for Wildcat fans.

The Prediction:

The long travel and early start times have gotten the best of plenty of Pac-12 teams in the recent past. Not only them, but even NFL teams from the west coast have had difficulty with early east coast games. Expect Stanford to come out sloppy before turning it on in the second quarter. Northwestern will struggle to stop the Cardinal rushing attack, and the Wildcats will be slowly ground into dust during a 31-7 victory for the visitors.

Next: Virginia At UCLA