KJ Costello Stanford QB

Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello throws in the second half against Washington State during an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018, in Stanford, Calif.

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Before the start of Illinois football's training camp on Aug. 2 in Champaign, beat writer BOB ASMUSSEN is counting down the Top 50 teams heading into the 2019 college football season:

No. 23: Stanford

Coach: David Shaw

2018 record: 9-4

Projected 2019 record: 8-4

Circle the date: Sept. 21 vs. Oregon

Bowl trip: Redbox

Why No. 23: It sure isn’t the schedule, which ranks among the toughest in the nation. The Cardinal open with Northwestern, then have back-to-back trips to Southern Cal and UCF. Then, they host Oregon. Later, Stanford hosts Washington and Notre Dame and also travels to Washington State. ... Shaw has built a power in Palo Alto, averaging 10 wins in his first eight seasons. ... Quarterback K.J. Costello helped the Cardinal thrive despite the lack of the usual strong run game. Costello threw for 3,540 yards and 29 touchdowns. ... Stanford needs four new starters on the offensive line. ... The top returning receiver is tight end Colby Parkinson. ... Stanford welcomes back a standout kicker, Jet Toner, who hit 14 of 15 tries last season. ... Cornerback Paulson Adebo is the best of five returning starters on defense. He had four interceptions last season.

Last year’s ranking: No. 12

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is asmussen@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).

College Football Reporter/Columnist

Bob Asmussen is a college football reporter and columnist for The News-Gazette. His email is asmussen@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@BobAsmussen).