San Jose State - Stanford TV viewer guide

Game day: September 7, 8 p.m. PT

Stadium: Stanford Stadium – Stanford, Calif.

San Jose State - Stanford TV info: Pac-12 Networks

Story lines: Stanford was supposed to suffer a drop-off in 2010 after the departed Toby Gerhart led the Card to its first bowl game in eight years—that didn’t happen. Stanford was supposed to have a drop-off in 2011 after Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers—that didn’t happen either. But for real, Stanford was DEFINITELY supposed to take a step back in 2012 with Andrew Luck in the NFL—the Card ended up winning its first Rose Bowl in 41 years.

So what’s the catch this year? There might not be one. Sure, Chase Thomas and Stepfan Taylor are gone along with a couple of studly tight ends, and those losses can’t be understated. On the other hand, Kevin Hogan is back under center after reviving the offense midseason, linebacker Shayne Skov is leading the revenge of the nerds, the offensive line is beastly and David Shaw has turned the Cardinal into a perennial power with an unconventional recruiting mandate. The result? Extremely high expectations as the No. 4 team in both the coaches' and AP top 25 preseason polls. And while Oregon was picked to win the conference, many expect Stanford to be Pac-12 champions and serious contenders for the BCS title game. The question is no longer, “How will Stanford replace X?” It’s “Will Stanford live up to the hype?”

[Related: 2013 Stanford football schedule]

Like other 2012 redshirt freshmen phenoms, Kevin Hogan figures to have a much better understanding of the playbook in 2013, especially since he didn’t become the starter until after replacing Josh Nunes and leading Stanford to a 48-0 trouncing of Colorado. But once he got in there, this team took off. How about this for a checklist of victories in your first career starts: Oregon State, at Oregon, UCLA twice and Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl. With a full off-season to prepare as the incumbent, people on The Farm can’t wait to see what Hogan does for an encore. He has already stated this fall camp that he feels more comfortable; a good thing considering that Stanford will lean on him more this year. He might not have Kulabafi back there, but Tyler Gaffney is back in town after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and playing some minor league baseball, and will add some needed depth to a running back corps that is five-deep (Anthony Wilkerson, Ricky Seale, Remound Wright and Barry Sanders being the others, though Gaffney and Wilkerson will be the featured backs).

Stanford’s 2012 started off the same way this year will with a date against San Jose State. The Cardinal beat Sparty by just a field goal, but little did everyone know how good San Jose State would be. Mike MacIntyre led quite the turnaround in the 408, taking just three years to turn a perennial WAC doormat into an 11-win team that finished in the top 25 in both the AP and coaches' polls for the first time in program history. If you’re reading this, you probably know that MacIntyre moved on to Colorado, but there are plenty of returning pieces for new head coach Ron Caragher, who took over for Jim Harbaugh at San Diego when he left to become the head coach at Stanford.

[Related: Get tickets for the Cardinal's home football games]

The most prized piece returning to Sparta is quarterback David Fales, a potential first-round draft pick in 2014. He’s not the most mobile guy, but he has accuracy for days, completing more than 70 percent of his passes last year while throwing 33 touchdowns against nine picks. He also has some pretty nice returning weapons to throw to as well with 1,300-yard receiver Noel Grigsby and 600-plus-yard pass grabbers Jabari Carr and Chandler Jones still making their home at Spartan Stadium.

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