Opening Number: 1999
As in the last time Stanford won at Sun Devil Stadium. Todd Husak threw for four touchdowns in the Cardinal's 50-30 win. Stanford's win over Cal the following week secured its first Rose Bowl berth since 1971.
Players to Watch
Steven Threet, Arizona State QB: ASU's hopes of an upset start and end with Threet, a transfer from Michigan who has been inconsistent this season. If Stanford gets any pressure on Threet, his TD-INT ratio (currently 17-15) could dip below 1 by the end of the night.
Omar Bolden, Arizona State CB: The senior returned his third interception of the season 66 yards for a touchdown in last week's loss at USC and returned a kickoff for a touchdown against Wisconsin earlier this season. Bolden says he's excited to face Andrew Luck, and Luck is probably excited to face ASU. The Sun Devils' pass defense is ranked 82nd among FBS schools.
Anthony Wilkerson, Stanford RB: Stepfan Taylor will get his yards, but look for Stanford to employ the multiple running back attack after it worked so well against Arizona. Wilkerson finished with career highs in carries (10) and yards (81) against the Wildcats.
- Chase Beeler, Stanford C: In the spirit of the start of basketball season, I'll list a center as a player to watch. The Stanford offensive line deserves a lot of the credit for the Cardinal's success this year, and Beeler is the anchor of that unit. Garth Gerhart, Toby's brother, is the starting center for Arizona State.
"Trap Game": I understand it's a road game, but what's the deal with Stanford only being favored by 7 points?
"Mistakes": Arizona State has made a lot of them this year, from turnovers to stupid penalties. The Sun Devils committed seven of their 20 turnovers in an early-season loss to Oregon and are the most penalized team in the Pac-10. So long as the bug doesn't rub off on Stanford, the Cardinal should roll.
"An Opportunity": That's what ASU head coach Dennis Erickson is calling tomorrow's game. It's an opportunity for the Sun Devils to keep their postseason hopes alive and prove they are better than their 4-5 record. For Stanford, it's an opportunity to match its best 10-game start to a season since 1951 and to remain in contention for a BCS bowl berth.
"Scoreboard Watching": Cal hosts Oregon. Georgia visits Auburn. San Diego State looks to shock TCU. Next week is when things get really interesting.
Additional Reading (For You Dedicated Students)
The Daily Axe says ASU's weak running game will allow Stanford to put additional pressure on Threet and predicts a comfortable Cardinal win.
- The 17 points Stanford has allowed in its last two games are the fewest in back-to-back games since 2004. Check out some more fun facts in GoStanford.com's official game release.
- Ted Miller says Saturday's game is "far from a mismatch," picks Stanford to win by a touchdown.
- Jon Wilner thinks the Sun Devils will cover.
Closing Number: 14
As in the number of consecutive losses by Arizona State against ranked teams.
Prediction: Stanford 38, Arizona State 20. A month ago, I thought this game might be a stumbling block for the Cardinal. Not anymore. I'll say an early special teams touchdown puts the Sun Devils in a hole and they never recover.