The Stanford Cardinal are coming off arguably their best season in school history. Following an 11-2 season that earned the team a bid to the Fiesta Bowl. They will lose a lot through graduation and the NFL Draft -- most notably star quarterback Andrew Luck -- and are still transitioning to a new head coach.
The California Golden Bears had an up-and-down season in 2011 and will look for consistency next season. Despite quite a bit of talent returning in the fall, folks really aren't too sure what to expect from the squad in what will be a difficult Pac-12.
ESPN recently released their final pre-preseason rankings for the upcoming year. Where did they have the Cardinal ranked?
Here is ESPN's complete list for the top-25. They had the Cardinal ranked 12th, which is one spot higher than they had them in their original pre-spring rankings.
A lot of people expected Stanford to slip after coach Jim Harbaugh left for the San Francisco 49ers after the 2010 season. But first-year coach David Shaw guided the Cardinal to an 11-2 record and a spot in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl last season. Now the Cardinal have to survive without All-America quarterback Andrew Luck and many other star players. Luck was the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft, and guard David DeCastro, tight end Coby Fleener and tackle Jonathan Martin were selected in the first two rounds. Sophomore Brett Nottingham looks like the heir apparent at quarterback, but Stanford figures to be a ground-oriented team with tailback Stepfan Taylor coming back. Stanford plays USC at home on Sept. 15 and at Oregon on Nov. 17.
The Golden Bears were not ranked on the list.