The Stanford Cardinal and the Arizona State Sun Devils are the Pac-12’s polar opposites. The Cardinal have a great defense but a shaky offense, while the Sun Devils are a prolific offense with a porous defense. However, both are 2-1 in the conference heading into their pivotal clash on Saturday, where another loss could knock either team out of contention for the conference championship game.
Over in the SEC, an equally important matchup between Texas A&M and Alabama could have huge repercussions in the West division. Read up on that big-time showdown here,[sc:NCAAFArticles ]
Stanford Cardinal vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Preview
Where: Sun Devil Stadium, Tempe
When: Saturday, October 18, 10:30 PM ET
Line: Stanford Cardinal (-3) at Arizona State Sun Devils (+3) – view all NCAA Football lines
Betting on the Stanford Cardinal
After their anaemic 205-yard effort on the road to Notre Dame the previous week, Stanford’s offense bounced back in a big way at home against Washington State. The Cardinal excelled with both the pass (Kevin Hogan threw for 284 yards and three touchdowns) and the run (they rushed for 193 yards) as they cruised to a 34-17 win.
[sc:NCAA240banner ]Stanford’s trademark defense didn’t disappoint either. They held Connor Halliday and a Wazzu passing attack that’s the most prolific in the nation to a season-low 292 yards. They also contained Halliday, getting to him for four tackles for a loss of 56 yards to limit Wazzu to minus-26 yards on 11 carries. Stanford remains top of the defensive standings with their average of 10 points allowed per game.
After keeping quarterbacks in the calibre of Halliday and Heisman candidate Everett Golson pretty much in check in the last two weeks, there shouldn’t be much doubt left that this Stanford defense is for real. The big question remains whether Hogan and the offense can replicate their performance against Washington State.
But if there’s another defense that can make Hogan and co. look good, it’s Arizona State’s. The Sun Devils are right down there with Wazzzu in the Pac-12 standings in both points allowed (31.4) and yards allowed per game (452.6).
Stanford waxed the floor with Arizona State in last season’s Pac-12 championship game at Tempe, 38-14, with Hogan throwing for 277 yards. However, Stanford relied heavily on their running game, which rushed for 240 yards and four touchdowns. With Stanford struggling to run the ball consistently this season (they’re averaging just 150 yards per game), the Cardinal offense will rest on Hogan’s shoulder.
The total has gone under in Stanford’s last six road games.
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Betting on the Arizona State Sun Devils
Arizona State head coach Todd Graham has a massive decision to make for Saturday’s big game against Stanford. Does he go back to incumbent starter Taylor Kelly, who’s back after missing the last two games with a foot injury?
Or does he stick to the hot arm of Mike Bercovici, who’s thrown for nearly 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns in the last two games, including a stunning Hail Mary to shock USC on the road back on October 4?
It’s a big decision, but either way, whoever starts at quarterback will have wide receiver Jaelen Strong to throw to, which helps. Strong is currently averaging the most receiving yards per game (122.8) in college football, and is coming off a 10-catch, 202-yard, three touchdown masterclass against USC. He was the recipient of Bercovici’s Hail Mary.
The biggest challenge for Graham and his staff will be to actually get Strong the ball. Stanford’s defense is top notch and it’s one of the few in the nation that can carry out a gameplan to silence Strong and dare any other Sun Devil beat them.
The stats say Arizona State is the second-leading rushing team in the Pac-12 (216 yards per game), but they didn’t run the ball too convincingly in their last two games against UCLA and USC. Against the Trojans, they were held to a pitiful 1.4 yards per carry. Their rushing defense has also been terrible, surrendering over 200 rushing yards in those two games.
However, neither figures to be much of a factor against Stanford. They weren’t really going to be able to run against the Stanford’s stout run defense, while the Cardinal’s running game has been too inconsistent this season.
Dating back to last year’s loss to Stanford, Arizona State is 0-3 against the spread in its last three home games.
Stanford’s offense stutters against another ranked opponent as Arizona State (+3) scores a big home win.[sc:NCAA490banner ]
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