The Arizona State Sun Devils come to Stanford Saturday with a 2-0 record, ranked number 23 in the nation, and a lethal passing attack led by Quarterback Taylor Kelly. Kelly’s number coming in eclipse that of Stanford’s own Kevin Hogan. Kelly has passed for 652 yards and 5 touchdowns, compared to Hogan, who thus far has passed for 395 yards and 5 touchdowns. Difference in the stats has to do primarily with the different offensive philosophies of opposing coaching staffs.
Stanford is a run first; pass second offense that relies on physical domination of front by their offensive line. The run game has set up Kevin Hogan just fine so this season in convincing wins over San Jose State and Army. The Sun Devils bring an explosive offense that relishes on the success of Taylor Kelly and the 8th ranked passing game, averaging over 358 yards a game in the air, and scoring a lot of points. ASU is sitting 19th in the nation in total point scored, 43 points a game, that’s the kind of scoring that gets you slim margin victories over opponents who score themselves, as Wisconsin can attest to that losing 32-30 to the Sun Devils in Tempe.
This is definitely a great test for Stanford’s defense, the first big test of the season. The Cardinal defensive front must apply pressure to Kelly and disrupt this passing game early. If Kelly gets in rhythm early expect Stanford to abandon their bread and butter, running the football. This could pose a problem for the Cardinal offense, if they are forced to get pass happy early things could swing in the favor of ASU in a shootout. It is imperative that Stanford plays smash mouth up front on both sides of the ball, but especially on the defensive side. With that the defensive backs are going to be busy on Saturday, because lets face it ASU is going to attempt to pass on this defense out the gate.
Vegas odds gave Stanford as high as an 8 point spread last Sunday, today that line has moved down to 6, with an increase in potential total points, indicating this one could be a tight, high scoring battle. This is Arizona States first road game in what is a tough schedule, but ASU is confident they can compete in the PAC-12 South. Stanford comes into Saturday’s game a legit contender in the eyes of many College Football experts around the nation, and being in a competitive division such as the Pac-12 North, having the likes of Oregon and Washington in the top ranking with them leaves little room for error for the Cardinal. It is crucial the Cardinal beat ASU at home, conference opponents are always tough, and in the Pac-12’s history we have seen the increased level of competition intra-conference leaves the top dogs with a loss, hurting the conferences chances of participating in the BCS title game. So whether North or South the Pac-12 is ready make a statement this year, and many predict Stanford to be the force from the west able to challenge any SEC team for the crown. Stanford must handle business against the Sun Devils, sending them and their fan base back to Mill Avenue defeated.