Stanford California Football

Stanford running back Christian McCaffrey, top, jumps over California defenders to score on a 1-yard run during the second half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Nov. 19, 2016, in Berkeley, Calif. Stanford won 45-31. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Marcio Jose Sanchez

Season: 9-3, 6-3

College Football Playoff ranking: No. 18

MVP: RB Christian McCaffrey (1,603 rushing yards, 310 receiving yards, 16 total touchdowns)

ESPN Bowl projection: Foster Farms Bowl

Huh? What just happened? The Cardinal are a case study in expectation. Stanford is a team that was expected to compete for the college football playoff, but were eliminated from contention with some early season losses. They still finished 9-3, though that was helped by playing four teams in the bottom half of the Pac-12 standings, plus Rice to end the season. Stanford missed quarterback Kevin Hogan more than most anticipated they might.