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The Pitt football team is set to take on the Stanford Cardinal in their season-concluding game in the Sun Bowl on Monday afternoon. The strange arc that Pitt’s season has taken is likely well-known to most Panther fans. However, there may be a lack of familiarity with Stanford as Pitt hasn’t played them since Jock Sutherland was leading the Panthers. Additionally, given the Cardinal’s location on the west coast, many of their games are on later than many east coast based Panther fans are able or willing to stay up to watch. Because of all of this, it’s worth taking a look back at Stanford’s season in advance of their post-season match-up. This way you can know more about the Cardinal beyond just what their record is when you watch the teams play.
For starters, Stanford went 8-4 on the season but this was a slight disappointment given pre-season expectations. Going 9-3 and winning the Pac-12 North last season with Heisman Trophy runner-up Bryce Love returning at Running Back, the Cardinal were ranked 13th in the preseason AP poll. There was every reason to expect them to contend for another division title, but they ended up going 6-3 in Pac-12 play, finishing 3rd behind Washington and Washington State.
Things started well for Stanford, with them opening the season with 4 straight wins. This included wins over USC, ranked 17th at the time, and Oregon, ranked 20th at the time. This hot start saw them rise to 7th in the AP Poll. However, the middle portion of their schedule proved to be rough going for the Cardinal, going 1-4 over the next 5 games to fall to 5-4. During this stretch, they suffered defeats to eventual playoff participant Notre Dame, eventual Pac-12 title game participants Washington and Utah, and Washington State, who was ranked 14th at the time. The losses to the latter three effectively knocked them out of the Pac-12 North Division race, with them dropping to 3-3 in conference play, at least 2 games behind both Washington schools who they had already played. Despite this, they finished the season strong rebounding to win their last three games against...
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