In his three seasons at Stanford, coach Jim Harbaugh has elevated the Cardinal from the cellar of the Pac-10 Conference to legitimate conference championship contender.
And after reaching their first bowl game in eight seasons last year, Stanford is among the schools who are poised to make a run at the Rose Bowl.
That quest begins Saturday when Stanford plays host to Sacramento State at 3:30 p.m. in the Bill Walsh Legacy Game, a game held in honor of the Hall of Fame coach who enjoyed two separate stints as Stanford’s coach. It will be the first-ever meeting between the schools.
Among the questions the Cardinal will be looking to answer in their season opener: Who can fill the void left by Heisman Trophy runner-up running back Toby Gerhart?
A lot of the responsibility will fall on sophomore quarterback Andrew Luck, who is among the most talented signal-callers in the country.
Luck has reliable wide receivers Ryan Whalen and Chris Owusu to lean on. Meanwhile, Stepfan Taylor, Jeremy Stewart and Tyler Gaffney are expected to share the load at running back.
The Cardinal defense will also have a new look this season, as the unit shifts to a 3-4 look under new defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.
Stanford vs. Sacramento State
WHEN: Saturday, 3:30 p.m.
WHERE: Stanford Stadium
TV: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
RADIO: KTRB (860 AM)