Arizona State (4-2) at Stanford (4-3)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, October 24th, 10:15 p.m. (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stanford Stadium (50,000) -- Stanford, California. Television: FSN. Home Record: ASU 3-1, Stanford 3-0. Away Record: ASU 1-1, Stanford 1-3. Neutral Record: ASU 0-0, Stanford 0-0. Conference Record: ASU 2-1, Stanford 3-2. Series Record: Arizona State leads, 16-9.
GAME NOTES: Coming off a thrilling last-second victory, the Arizona State Sun Devils hit the road to take on the Stanford Cardinal in a Pac-10 Conference showdown at Stanford Stadium.
ASU rallied for a 24-17 win over Washington last weekend thanks to a 50-yard touchdown pass on its final offensive play. The win was the Sun Devils' second straight as they improved to 2-1 in conference play. They'll return home for two straight following this weekend's tilt.
The Cardinal have won all three home games this season, and seven of eight dating back to last year. And they could really use some home cooking following a pair of tough road losses to Oregon State and Arizona. Last week, they coughed up a 15-point lead as Arizona rallied for the go-ahead touchdown in the final minutes.
Arizona State has won three straight meetings against Stanford to take a 16-9 lead in the all-time series. The Sun Devils have won those last three meetings by a combined 120-23 margin.
Chris McGaha continues to climb the chart's on ASU's all-time receiving list. He has 141 career receptions for 1,891 yards, though perhaps none of those catches were bigger than last week's game-winning 50-yard touchdown grab with five seconds remaining. What makes the catch even more special was the fact that McGaha did not practice all week because he had the flu. Although it was McGaha's only catch of the day, he forms a solid receiving tandem with Kyle Williams, who leads the team in receptions (34), receiving yards (397) and touchdowns (two) this season. Williams even threw a touchdown pass in the second quarter against Washington. Danny Sullivan, who hit McGaha in stride on that final play, finished with 263 passing yards on 21-of-35 accuracy. The Sun Devils are hoping those last-second heroics inspire some improved play from Sullivan, who is completing a rather modest 54.5 percent of his passes with only five touchdowns against five interceptions.
Arizona State senior safety Ryan McFoy notched two interceptions against Washington. The team has now recorded at least one pick in 14 straight games, which is the longest such streak in the nation. ASU ranks fifth in the nation in turnover margin (plus-1.5) and seventh in total defense (247.83). Opponents have found it extremely difficult to run against the Sun Devils, who are yielding just 57.83 rushing yards per game, which ranks second in the FBS. The defense seems to have righted the ship since back-to-back losses to Georgia and Oregon State a few weeks ago, as ASU is now allowing just 16 points per game on the season. Last week, they held Washington to 99 yards on the ground (3.7 ypc) and were completely dominant after allowing a touchdown on Washington's opening drive. Saia Falahola made his presence felt with two sacks in the win.
Stanford's gut-wrenching loss to Arizona can't be pinned on the offense. The Cardinal took a 38-29 lead on Toby Gerhart's two-yard touchdown plunge with 3:23 remaining in the third quarter, but the defense gave up a pair of long touchdown runs in the fourth quarter. Gerhart had a monster day on the ground, churning out 123 yards and two scores on 28 carries. Stanford boasts the nation's 17th-ranked rushing offense with an average of 201.14 ypg on the ground. But Andrew Luck was equally impressive in the passing game last week, completing 21-of-35 attempts for 423 yards with three touchdowns and an interception. Chris Owusu had five catches for 116 yards and a TD, while Ryan Whalen also had five catches and finished with 91 receiving yards and a touchdown. Owusu doubles as a lethal return man for Stanford, having already returned three kicks for touchdowns this year. He had a long return of 52 yards last week and is the main reason why the Cardinal lead the nation in kick return average (32.5).
The defense has been a whole different story for Stanford, particularly over the last two weeks. Oregon State and Arizona combined for 81 points against the Cardinal defense, which fell apart late in the game last week. After Gerhart gave the Cardinal a nine-point lead with his third-quarter touchdown run, the defense turned around and surrendered touchdown runs of 43 and 57 yards in the fourth quarter, the latter of which put Arizona on top with just under three minutes to play. The lapse wasn't so much that Stanford was worn down -- Arizona had only 23:50 of possession time for the game -- it was mostly due to poor tackling and missed assignments. The Cardinal defense has largely been a middle-of-the-road unit in the conference for much of the season, but the effort given over the last two weeks has to be alarming for head coach Jim Harbaugh. Look for the team to get back to the drawing board this week and address some of the things that have been giving them headaches of late.
ASU has dominated Stanford in the last three meetings. The difference this time around is that the Cardinal is capable of putting some points on the board. Still, Sullivan, McGaha and company have to be licking their chops at the thought of facing the Cardinal defense.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Arizona State 45, Stanford 35
10/21 10:36:16 ET