On the surface, there doesn't appear to be much substance to Stanford's date with Army on Saturday.
The fifth-ranked Cardinal is a 30-point favorite over a team that just lost to Ball State by 28 and for the past two seasons has been one of the worst programs in major college football.
(The Black Knights lost to Stony Brook last year -- yes, Stony Brook plays football.)
All signs point to a lopsided affair.
But dig deeper, and several interesting subplots become evident:
Stanford traveled Thursday to allow enough time to adjust to the 9 a.m. (Pacific) kickoff, but a groggy first quarter would not come as a surprise.
Army's playbook compounds the body-clock challenge: Like Air Force and Navy, the Black Knights use the triple option, a run-oriented approach that features unconventional blocking schemes.
"You have to make sure everything you call is sound," Stanford coach David Shaw said. "And if you have one guy out of position, they'll expose you."
The Black Knights are also different on defense, with extra defensive ends. Technically, the formation is called the double-eagle flex. (Arizona used the double-eagle during the heyday of its Desert Swarm defense.) Shaw described the formation as a 5-3-3 alignment.
"Those guys know exactly what they're doing, and they use what they have to their benefit," Cardinal tailback Tyler Gaffney said.
Approximately one-third of Stanford's roster, including quarterback Kevin Hogan and All-American offensive tackle David Yankey, is from the eastern third of the country. Many players will have friends and family in attendance.
The Cardinal also has a plethora of players and coaches from military families. The group includes Shaw, who has a cousin in the Army and whose father, Willie, was an electronics specialist in the Air Force stationed in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam era.
Stanford's itinerary this weekend includes a bus tour of West Point.
"I've heard about the campus since I was a kid," Shaw said.
Stanford recruits the East Coast heavily but rarely has a chance to see prospects in person during the season.
This week, Shaw dispatched assistant coaches to points throughout the eastern portion of the country.