Stanford's 2013 schedule at-a-glance: Sept. 7: vs. SAN JOSE STATE. It was closer than expected last year (a 20-17 Stanford win), which should lend a sense of urgency to the Cardinal's preparation. Sept. 14: at ARMY. Kickoff is 9 a.m. Pacific, so Stanford should have the game in hand by 9:15. Sept. 21: vs. ARIZONA STATE. Stanford begins its Pac-12 title defense against one of the top teams in the South, which will be fresh (or not-so-fresh) off a rumble with Wisconsin. Sept. 28: vs. WASHINGTON STATE (CenturyLink Field in Seattle). The Cardinal isn't complaining about the neutral site: It strips WSU of home-field advantage and saves Stanford from schlepping to Pullman. Oct. 5: vs. WASHINGTON. One of two teams to beat Stanford last year will provide the toughest test yet for the Cardinal's defense. Oct. 12: at UTAH. The teams haven't played since 1996. Stanford should be a significant favorite but best be wary: This has the feel of a trap game. Oct. 19: vs. UCLA. Rematch of the Pac-12 title game in which Stanford scored the final 10 points to escape with a 27-24 victory. Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley is one of the best in the conference. Oct. 26: at OREGON STATE. Another opponent that had Stanford on the brink last year but couldn't finish the job. OSU was expected to be one of the league's top teams but lost its season opener to Eastern Washington. Nov. 2: BYE Nov. 7: vs. OREGON. The most-anticipated game of the season is under the Thursday night lights. The Ducks dominated the 2010-11 duels, but Stanford won a low-scoring thriller last season. The stakes could include the division title, a berth in the BCS and perhaps a shot at the national championship. Nov. 16: at USC. Stanford has won four in a row, but the past three have been down to the wire (and beyond). The Trojans could be in contention for the Pac-12 title at this point — or looking for a new coach. Nov. 23: vs. CAL. The Big Game moves back to its traditional slot after last year's October affair, in which Stanford overpowered the Bears in every facet of a 21-3 victory. The Cardinal has held the Ax since 2010 and isn't expected to relinquish it this season. Nov. 30: vs. NOTRE DAME. Sets up as a finale with BCS implications and, for Stanford, painful memories of last year's controversial loss. Irish quarterback Everett Golson has been suspended from school for the year. His replacement is Tommy Rees, who came off the bench to lead the Irish past Stanford last season.
For more on college sports, see Jon Wilner's College Hotline at blogs.mercurynews.com/collegesports. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-920-5716.