Stanford built to beat SEC's best

On both offense and defense, Cardinal have physical power and prospects

Updated: September 20, 2013, 10:43 AM ET
By Kevin Carter | ESPN Insider

David YankeyDavid Madison/Getty ImagesAll-American guard David Yankey anchors a formidable O-line for the Cardinal.

Heading into Week 4 of the college football season, the most talked about Pac-12 team has been Oregon. After all, the Ducks rank second in the nation in points scored (61.3 PPG), fourth in in points against (9.0 PPG) and have obliterated teams from both the ACC (Virginia) and SEC (Tennessee). But while Oregon has impressed, another team in the conference might actually have a better shot of winning a BCS title this season, particularly if it involves defeating an SEC powerhouse.

As the No. 5-ranked team in the country heading into a big early-season game versus No. 23 Arizona State on Saturday, the Stanford Cardinal are poised to step into the national spotlight. The Cardinal, coming off nondescript wins over San Jose State and Army, return 15 starters from last year's Pac-12 championship squad, including QB Kevin Hogan and star guard David Yankey. But what might be most significant about this year's Cardinal team is its size and style of play. In certain ways, Stanford is built like -- and perhaps best equipped to match up with -- a typical SEC champ.

If Stanford hopes to end the SEC's seven-year BCS title streak, a statement win on Saturday would be a good place to start. Heading into its first true test of the season, here's a closer look at what makes Stanford's offense and defense so special – and why the Cardinal could pose a threat to dethrone the SEC in January.


To read Kevin Carter's complete article about why Stanford can hang with the elite SEC teams, become an ESPN Insider today.

• College football analyst for ESPN
• 14-year NFL defensive end; No. 6 overall pick in 1995 draft
• All-American at University of Florida