The Stanford Cardinal were ranked as the third best team in the nation in our partner site SI’s annual Way-Too-Early Top 25 college football teams ranking.
The Cardinal ranked behind defending national champion Alabama and Texas A&M.
Coming off of a 12-2 record in 2012, highlights of their season included winning the Rose Bowl over Wisconsin and upsetting unbeaten Oregon on the road.
Here is SI’s Andy Staples explaining why Stanford comes in at No. 3:
Tailback Stepfan Taylor and tight ends Zach Ertz and Levine Toilolo are gone, but the Cardinal return four starting offensive linemen and 10 starters from the defense that went to Eugene and shut down Oregon. Also, quarterback Kevin Hogan — who helped reinvent Stanford’s offense after his midseason promotion — will have a full offseason as the starter. While announcing his return via Twitter earlier this month, Cardinal defensive end Ben Gardner wrote about “another big #partyinthebackfield.” If this defense can get even better, that will be quite a celebration.
The Cardinal also signed head coach David Shaw to a long-term contract shortly after the season ended.