coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
On 09/16/2013 12:25 PM in NCAA Football

Arizona State Sun Devils at Stanford Cardinal: Preview and Pick

Arizona State Sun Devils at Stanford Cardinal: Preview and Pick

One of the biggest games of the week for college football is happening in the Pac 12. The No. 23 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils will take to the road to battle the No. 5 ranked Stanford Cardinal. This game may not be getting all of the hype leading up to kickoff, but it is easily one of the best games on the schedule that will most certainly alter the college football rankings when it is over.

Arizona State Sun Devils at Stanford Cardinal Odds

The college football odds of this game opened up with the Cardinal listed as eight point home favorites. This line has dropped since its opening and now can be found at (-7.5) at several of the top rated sports books despite the fact that the public is betting on the Cardinal. As of last check at a sports betting consensus site, the public is backing Stanford at a 67 percent clip.

The Sun devils will have to play better if they hope to beat Stanford. They allowed over 200 yards on the ground and if not for a bizarre ending they may have lost. Wisconsin, trailing by two with no timeouts, drove 70 yards in just over a minute, setting up a first down on ASU's 13 yard line. On the first play, quarterback Joel Stave ran left and downed the ball, his right knee touching the grass. However when he dropped the ball, the Sun Devils pounced on it and it was the end of the game. This bizarre ending gave the Sun devils the win, but they may not have deserved it with as bad as they played.

Now they have to try and stop a very talented Stanford team. Kevin Hogan continues to shine at quarterback, Tyler Gaffney is a bruising force in the backfield, and Ty Montgomery is repeatedly finding wide-open spaces in the secondary.

The college football betting trends for this game show that both squads have positive angles in their favor for this Pac-12 showdown.

The Cardinal is 12-3 against the spread (ATS) in their last 15 games after allowing less than 170 yards passing in their previous game, 18-7-1 ATS in their last 26 games after accumulating more than 200 yards rushing in their previous game and 35-17-1 ATS in their last 53 games overall.

The Sun Devils are 3-1-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings and 4-1 ATS in the last five games overall but they are 16-33-3 ATS in their last 52 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.

Arizona State Sun Devils at Stanford Cardinal Pick

With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/17/2013 02:56 PM

The Pac-12 has its first self-defining game on Saturday when Arizona State visits Stanford.

Sure, Washington State already provided some insight on itself and USC -- fill in the blanks, Cougs and Trojans. And Oregon State's overtime win at Utah provided some separation in the middle of the pack. But the No. 23 Sun Devils and No. 5 Cardinal are both ranked and are both widely seen as being key players in the race for their respective division championships. A conference loss would be painful for both and could put an early ax wound in their long-term goals, particularly for Stanford.

The game should provide the first real vision of who the 2013 Cardinal are. The pressure is squarely on Stanford, which probably can't afford to lose if it wants to remain a national title contender. A Stanford loss also might make the Oregon game on Nov. 7 do-or-die for the North Division title because it's difficult to imagine, at least at this point, the Ducks losing twice in conference play.

Stanford was solid in its win over a good San Jose State team with a future NFL QB in David Fales. The victory at overmatched Army, however, was pretty middling. It's entirely possible that coach David Shaw and defensive coordinator Derek Mason have kept things pretty vanilla in the early going and they are going to open up their bags of tricks this weekend.

We shall see.

Arizona State, meanwhile, should be pretty loose. Its big win over Wisconsin, complete with a controversial ending that ripped victory from the jaws of defeat, might make the Sun Devils feel charmed. A win over Stanford would be nice gravy, in large part because it would put pressure back on top South Division rival UCLA.

The Sun Devils don't play Oregon this season. UCLA plays at Stanford and at Oregon on back-to-back weekends, Oct. 19 and 26. If the Sun Devils beat the highest-rated foe on their schedule, knowing what the Bruins have ahead, it would be a substantial swing in ASU's favor.

Further, besting a physical team like the Badgers should give the Sun Devils confidence as well as experience against burly offensive and defensive linemen. It certainly was good preparation for the Cardinal linemen, who are among the best in the country on both sides of the ball.

Another reason this game is big: The schedule is really thin this week.

Arizona, Colorado, California and Oregon are all off. There are two notable nonconference games. Utah is at BYU, the last engagement of the Holy War before taking a two-year hiatus. And mercurial USC hosts a dangerous Utah State team.

After that, the schedule is pretty lackluster: Oregon State at San Diego State, New Mexico State at UCLA, Idaho State at Washington and Idaho at Washington State.

The Pac-12 should be able to further improve its already strong record in nonconference games.

While there were a handful of good matchups last weekend, forcing the spotlight to be shared, the Sun Devils' trip to Stanford mostly has the stage to itself with its 4 p.m. PT kickoff. Both teams have a chance to make a national statement, one that could resonate throughout the season.

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/18/2013 03:02 PM

There is little doubt who the two premier programs in the Pac-12 are; Oregon and Stanford have combined for the past four Pac-12 championships and are national championship contenders year in and year out.

It shouldn't be a surprise that Todd Graham speaks so highly of the Cardinal. Stanford won the conference last year, and enters Saturday's contest with Arizona State ranked No. 5 in both polls. "I have a respect for people who win championships," said Graham. "There is a reason why these guys (Stanford) have been to as many BCS bowl games as they have been to, there is a reason why they are the defending conference champions. You better respect that."

Graham said that every player practiced today which surprised him coming off such a physical game against Wisconsin. "Last year maybe not all of our guys would have practiced today," said Graham. "I was pretty impressed today, they never said anything and I know how sore they are."

The Sun Devils know the challenge they face on Saturday. The Cardinal have the nation's second longest winning streak with 10 straight wins dating back to last season. Stanford has won 27 of its last 28 games played in the state of California.

"If you are going to go into their place, you are going to have to take it," Graham said. "If you go in there and make mistakes, (it's) not happening. Preparation is the key and I thought our guys did a great job today."

- Stanford's Taylor Kelly

Graham sees a lot of similarities between Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan and ASU signal caller Taylor Kelly. Hogan is a perfect 7-0 as the Stanford starting quarterback, including a victory at Oregon and a Rose Bowl win over Wisconsin.

"I am very, very impressed with their quarterback," said Graham. "He reminds me so much of Taylor, he is the key to their offense with his ability to extend plays."

After two games, Hogan has a 168.2 QB rating and has only taken two sacks on the season. Co-defensive coordinator Paul Randolph says the key to defending Hogan is to keep him in the pocket.

"He can move the chains on third downs, those are the things that are backbreakers for defenses," said Randolph. "You have to contain him and you have to keep him in the pocket and not let him become a dual-threat quarterback."

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/19/2013 03:18 PM

Like every recent Arizona State football coach, Todd Graham has praised this week’s opponent, Stanford, for its special teams.

That, conversely, he said was his team’s weakest area Saturday against Wisconsin.

“They’re not the fastest (on special teams),” Graham said of Stanford, “but they’re the best.”

Stanford special teams have bedeviled ASU back to at least 2004, particularly by blocking punts. Graham said ASU made special-teams errors during practice last week that carried over against Wisconsin. “You’ve got to be totally focused (in practice) because the margin of error is very small.”

On offense, Stanford excels because its formations are “off the chart,” Graham said. “You’re going to have three-four concepts out of 67 different formations. If you don’t know how to line up, they’re going to teach you. They’re very innovative and unique, and most people would not think that.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/20/2013 07:51 PM

Since Stanford won the Pac-12 Conference and the Rose Bowl last season, momentum has been building toward a few pivotal points on the schedule. One of those is now.

After victories over San Jose State and Army, the competition is about to get a whole lot tougher. The fifth-ranked Cardinal (2-0) will begin Pac-12 play against No. 23 Arizona State (2-0) on Saturday at Stanford Stadium.

The Cardinal also will host No. 17 Washington, No. 13 UCLA and No. 2 Oregon between away games against Washington State, Utah and Oregon State over the next seven weeks.

“Everybody in our conference has a run of five or six games in a row that you look at and say, ‘Whew. Here we go,’” Stanford coach David Shaw said Tuesday. “And that’s to me what makes it hard, and that’s to me what makes it special.”

Just how good the Cardinal can be is still somewhat of a mystery.

Stanford rarely routs opponents, even those that are overmatched. The Cardinal grind out games behind a power running game and an opportunistic defense, which makes measuring progress tough — sometimes even for the coaches.

“I feel good, not great,” Shaw said. “There are some gains that we made from Week 1 to Week 2. I don’t know that we’re operating anywhere close to our capabilities.”

Tyler Gaffney has run for 104 and 132 yards in the first two contests. Kevin Hogan has completed 62 percent of his passes for 395 yards, five touchdowns and one interception. And Ty Montgomery has been every bit the No. 1 wide receiver coaches had hoped, catching 10 passes for 211 yards and two touchdowns.

The defense has faced two completely different opponents, from San Jose State’s spread passing attack to Army’s funky triple-option runners. Stanford has allowed an average of 292 total yards and 16 ½ points in the first two games, smothering ball carriers one minute and missing tackles the next.

“I think everyone is comfortable but not satisfied,” defensive end Josh Mauro said. “There’ve been flashes of this team being something special in the first two games, but we really have to put it together for 60 minutes or more if necessary.”

Unlike most weeks, the Cardinal at least have some idea of how the Sun Devils will try to defend them.

Coaches and players watched ASU’s controversial 32-30 win over Wisconsin on the flight back from West Point on Saturday night. Stanford, which beat Wisconsin 20-14 in the Rose Bowl, has been a better version of the Badgers again this season.

Both feature a mammoth offensive line, power running game and improved downfield passing while using fullbacks and tight ends all over the field. While Wisconsin gives the Cardinal a glimpse of what the Sun Devils might do, they also know ASU will benefit from playing against a similar opponent.

“It does take it up another level,” Hogan said.

The stakes will be higher, too. Even one loss could put a major dent in the only goal Stanford coaches ever talk about — winning the Pac-12 title, putting increasingly more pressure on the preparation with a conference game every Saturday until the week before a Thursday night game against Oregon on Nov. 7.

“You’ve got to be able to rise to the occasion every seven days from now until the end of the season, with a Thursday game in there somewhere,” Shaw said. “But it’s about realizing every game’s important. No one is bigger than the other one. You can’t look past any opponent. You can’t slight any opponent. You need to live in seven-day existences.”

coleryan Posts:21705 Followers:24
09/21/2013 08:15 AM

Arizona State comes off lucky after winning a game against the Badgers that was deceided by a botched call by the officials. But don't underestimate the Sun Devils they have NFL talent on this team and it will show against Stanford.

Pick: Arizona State +6.5