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Pac-12 Game Preview: Stanford vs. Arizona State


With the Oregon Ducks getting the week off, all the attention in the Pac-12 shifts to Palo Alto this week and a top-tier conference match-up between the 5th-ranked Stanford Cardinal (2-0) and the 23rd-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils (2-0).

The Cardinal have rolled through their first two games, but face their first true test in the Devils, who upset the Wisconsin Badgers 32-30 last weekend. The game ended in controversy – as the officials appeared confused after a Wisconsin kneel down and failed to spot the ball in time for a potential game-winning field goal – but ASU showed they are a capable team with plenty of talent nonetheless.

“We just beat the defending Big Ten champion,” said ASU head coach Todd Graham, according to ESPN.com. “That’s the human element of the game, but at the end of the day, I’m proud of our guys how hard they played. They deserved to win and I truly believe that.”

The win was certainly a huge confidence builder for the Sun Devils and there’s no doubt they’ll need all the confidence they can muster against the Cardinal, who have defeated Arizona State five out of the last six times the teams have met in Palo Alto.

While Arizona State has been a pleasant surprise so far this season, we knew exactly how strong Stanford would be and through its first two games, it hasn’t disappointed. The Cardinal have already amassed nearly 400 rushing yards and 68 points in their first two contests, however their defense – which has been the team’s calling card over the past few seasons – hasn’t been as dominant, as it allowed 20 points against the lowly Army Black Knights last week.

The Devils should be able to score some points against the Cardinal, but their front seven will undoubtedly have a tough time dealing with the Stanford run game. Arizona State allowed more than 200 rushing yards against Wisconsin last week and will face a similarly adept ground attack with Stanford, which is averaging nearly 200 rushing yards per game so far this year.

With both teams’ offenses presenting major challenges to the opposing defenses, we could have a high-powered shootout on our hands this week. Even though ASU will likely lose the battle in the trenches, it should be able to win the one through the air and keep up on the scoreboard enough to keep the game close.

Look for Stanford to win at home, but for Arizona State to cover +7 points in defeat.

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