The No. 7 Stanford Cardinal eye their second straight Pac-12 championship as they face the No. 11 Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.
Riding a seven-game win streak, the Sun Devils will seek revenge for the 42-28 loss the Cardinal handed them back in September, and their first conference title since 2007. But they’ll have to make do without running back Marion Grice for a second straight game.
With some depth in the backfield, the Arizona State rushing attack should still be in top form. Sophomore D.J. Foster proved last week he is more than capable of stepping in for the Pac-12’s fourth leading rusher, recording 124 yards and two touchdowns on 23 carries in the Sun Devils 58-21 victory over Arizona last week. Junior tight end De’Marieya Nelson also chipped in with two rushing scores.
Foster and the Sun Devils second-leading rusher in quarterback Taylor Kelly face a Stanford rushing defense that’s stymied opponents ground game all year. The Cardinal are atop the Pac-12 allowing 87.3 rushing yards, and even held the seemingly unstoppable Oregon rush to 64 yards in last month’s victory.
Kelly has also passed for 3,337 passing yards and 27 touchdowns, and can instead take advantage of a Cardinal secondary letting up 254 passing yards per game and 19 total touchdowns this season.
The Cardinal are fresh off their 27-20 win over Notre Dame last week, holding the Irish to 64 rushing yards and a 5-for-12 third down conversion rate, with running back Tyler Gaffney tallying 189 yards and a touchdown on 33 attempts.
Junior cornerback Wayne Lyons also provided two fourth quarter interceptions, stunting any chance of an Irish rally.
The Sun Devils were one of a handful of teams that kept Gaffney to less than 100 yards rushing this year, but he still reached the end zone twice. Last week against Arizona, Arizona State failed to contain the Pac-12’s best rusher in Ka’Deem Carey, who totaled 157 yards and a touchdown.
Despite failing to contain Carey, the Arizona State offense put up four double-digit quarters against the Wildcats, and the defense also forced four turnovers. The Sun Devils are first in the Pac-12 with 21 interceptions, headlined by senior defensive back Robert Nelson’s six picks, and senior safety Alden Darby’s four.
Betting Odds: Arizona State favored by 3 points
Over/Under: 56 points
Time: 7:45 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Online Stream Info: Watch ESPN
Prediction: Arizona State over Stanford, 24-20