The Stanford Cardinal are coming off one of their most successful seasons in school history, falling just short of a Fiesta Bowl title in January. Even with Andrew Luck, Coby Fleener and others leaving town for the NFL, many still feel the Cardinal have a chance to make some serious headway in 2012.
The California Golden Bears clearly have a lot of talent on their roster, and following a 2011 season that was marred by offensive inconsistencies, you can bet that head coach Jeff Tedford and his Bears will be looking to make a statement in what should be a very deep and talented Pac-12 conference.
The first round of power rankings for the Pac-12 were recently released by National Football Post. Where did they have the Bears and Cardinal ranked? We take a look at that (and more) after the jump...
Here is what National Football Post had to say about the Stanford Cardinal, who entered their list No. 3 in the conference behind USC and Oregon.
The Cardinal begin the post-Andrew Luck era, but head coach David Shaw will continue to rely on a strong rushing attack and a sound defense to win games. And there are high hopes for Brett Nottingham, who likely will win the starting QB job despite solid competition from Josh Nunes. Offensive line is an issue with Jonathan Martin and David DeCastro gone, so the best O-Line haul in school history that will make their debut this fall may need to develop quickly.
They had the Bears ranked seventh in the Pac-12, although NFP likes the potential these Bears showed in spring camp should they find their rhythm on offense.
The Golden Bears seemingly underachieve each season, and some wonder if Jeff Tedford is long for Berkeley. The longtime Bears head coach is on the hot seat, so it's a big year for Cal, which will play in a remodeled stadium. Quarterback Zach Maynard is coming off of a good spring season, and he'll have weapons around him led by stud receiver Keenan Allen and talented running backs. The defense is always sound, but can the offense be consistent enough from week to week?
There will definitely be plenty of storylines to watch for in the coming months for these Bay Area teams. The start of the upcoming regular season is just under 100 days away.
For more on the Cardinal, be sure to check out Rule of Tree. For more on the Bears, head over to California Golden Blogs.