Stanford Offense__Brian Cantoni

(Photo Courtesy of Brian Cantoni)
Stanford will face its toughest test yet with a proven ASU squad.

by Andrew Skaggs

Stanford’s unblemished 2013 record is a nice way to start the season, but this weekend in Palo Alto the fun gets started against 23rd-ranked Arizona State. In the Pac-12 opener for both teams, this game is the only matchup that features top-25 teams this weekend. Arizona St. is coming off an impressive comeback victory over No. 24 Wisconsin last weekend in Tempe. Stanford hasn’t had trouble in their first two contests of the season, defeating San Jose State and Army by double-digits. With Arizona St. looking like a potential contender in the Pac-12 South, Stanford will need to bring their A-game to start the Pac-12 season with a bang.

When Stanford has the ball

Stanford has stuck to the blueprint of running the ball to set up the pass through its first two games. They have gained 197 yards rushing in each of these two games, while QB Kevin Hogan sports a nice 5-to-1 touchdown to interception ratio. Running won’t come easy against this Sun Devil defense led by All-American DT Will Sutton. Arizona St. ranks 20 th in the country, allowing just 15.5 points per game this season. One encouraging note for the Cardinal can be found in last weekend’s matchup between Arizona St. and Wisconsin. The Badgers employ a very similar playing style and Wisconsin rushed for 231 yards against the Arizona St. defense.

Edge: Push

When Arizona St. has the ball

Arizona St. QB Taylor Kelly has thrown for over 300 yards in each of the Sun Devils’ first two games. As a whole, Arizona St.’s offense ranks 20 th in the country in scoring at 43.5 points per game. Stanford allows just 16.5 points per game, led by LB Shayne Skov and DE Ben Gardner. Arizona St. will have to deal with the angry confines of a Pac-12 road game, something they haven’t experienced yet this season.

Edge: Stanford

Bottom Line

Stanford is expected to win this game, but Arizona St. proved last week that they are a force to be reckoned with in 2013. If the Sun Devils can slow the Cardinal rushing attack and force Kevin Hogan to air it out, this game should be highly competitive. The winner of this game will have a lot of momentum heading into the Pac-12 season.

Prediction: Stanford 24 Arizona State 21

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