Kansas State Wildcats at (7) Stanford Cardinal (-14.5, 48.5)
After suffering a costly season-opening loss a year ago, No. 7 Stanford looks to avoid a similar misstep Friday as the Cardinal welcomes Kansas State to Palo Alto. Star running back Christian McCaffrey returns for his junior season to lead Stanford, which captured last year’s Pac-12 and Rose Bowl titles but was kept out of the College Football Playoff due largely to its early loss to Northwestern.
The game features two unproven quarterbacks in Stanford senior Ryan Burns and Kansas State junior Jesse Ertz, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in last year’s opener against South Dakota. In addition to the two signal-callers, all eyes will be on McCaffrey, who broke Barry Sanders’ record for all-purpose yards in a season (3,864) and will receive another heavy workload this season after finishing second in last year’s Heisman Trophy race. “I’m going to start giving him some of my responsibilities,” coach David Shaw told reporters. “The guy has handled everything else. We’re going to push him harder, push him further, and see if there’s more he can do.” McCaffrey will look to launch Stanford’s national title push with a big game against Kansas State, which was picked to finish eighth in the Big 12 preseason media poll.
TV: 9 p.m. ET, Fox Sports 1.
LINE HISTORY: Stanford opened this game favored by 16-points over visiting Kansas State, but since then money has come back on the Wildcats, with the Cardinal now favored by two converted touchdowns.
The total has also seen quite a bit of movement. Since opening at the nice round number of 50, it was quickly bet down to 48.5 and then as low as 47.5. Money has come back on the Over since then, with the total back at 48.5 heading into Friday. Check out the complete line history here.
Kansas State – No injuries to report.
Stanford – RB B. Love (out Friday, lower body).
WEATHER REPORT: It should be a beautiful night for football at Stanford Stadium. The forecast is clear and will be in the low 70’s at kickoff. There will be a 10 mph wind blowing from the west at kickoff but that will quickly diminish to 5 mph.
WHAT BOOKS SAY: “We have seen some sharp action come in on Stanford this morning (Thursday) moving our line from Stanford -14 to -14.5, with 62% of the action on Stanford to cover. Our 48 point total on this game is seeing just over 75% of the action on the OVER.” – Michael Stewart of CarbonGaming.ag.
ABOUT KANSAS STATE (2015: 6-7 SU, 6-7 ATS, 8-5 O/U): Ertz hasn’t attempted a pass in a college football game but coach Bill Snyder said his consistency in camp gave him the edge over Joe Hubener and Alex Delton, adding that all three could see time against Stanford. There are plenty of question marks surrounding the inexperienced receiving corps, but junior college transfer Byron Pringle shined in the spring game and could make an immediate impact. Kansas State’s defense allowed 452.2 yards and 31.5 points per game last season but could improve dramatically behind linebacker Elijah Lee, preseason All-Big 12 defensive end Jordan Willis and senior safety Dante Barnett, who missed nearly all of last season due to injury.
ABOUT STANFORD (2015: 12-2 SU, 10-4 ATS, 8-6 O/U): Burns is a 6-foot-5 senior who has thrown one college pass but won the starting quarterback job over junior Keller Chryst after both battled to replace four-year starter Kevin Hogan in the fall. Besides McCaffrey, Burns has plenty of help on the offensive side, including wide receivers Michael Rector and Trenton Irwin along with tight end Dalton Schultz, who caught 10 passes for 121 yards last season. Stanford forced just 14 turnovers last season, but the physical defense returns six starters, including junior end Solomon Thomas, who had 10 1/2 tackles for loss last season
* Wildcats are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Pac-12.
* Cardinal are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Friday games.
* Over is 4-1 in Wildcats last 5 games overall.
* Over is 4-1 in Cardinal last 5 games overall.