It's never too late to learn a little more about your enemy, especially when your enemy is a Stanford Cardinal football team that utterly dominated one half of football in your last meeting.
For those who having been keeping up, this is the third installment of our Behind Enemy Lines chat with Jack Blanchat, Jacob Jaffe and Darius Tahir of Rule of Tree and Hank Waddle of Go Mighty Card. If you're looking to catch up, here's the rest:
Q: What's your best case scenario for Saturday's game?
Jack Blanchat: The best case scenario for Stanford is that the Cardinal goes out and continues the performance it had for three quarters last time. A nice dominant victory would quell all questions about the Cardinal's ability on the road and the offense at the same time. And then Jim Harbaugh and Andrew Luck both decide to come back to Stanford.
Jacob Jaffe: Ty Montgomery returns the opening kick for a touchdown, the ASU offense plays like it did in the first half of the teams' last meeting, and Tyler Gaffney goes to work on the ground. Kevin Hogan doesn't even need to throw a pass as Gaffney runs for a school-record 280 yards on 40 carries. USC realizes Sarkisian isn't fan-friendly and decides to bring back Lane Kiffin, prompting Marcus Mariota to change his mind and declare for the NFL Draft.
Hank Waddle: Any win is a good win, but I think my best case scenario would look something like this. First Trent Murphy is absolutely dominant -- three sacks, two deflected passes, and six total tackles for loss. Meanwhile, Tyler Gaffney carries the ball 44 times while rushing for 202 yards and three touchdowns, keeping him on pace to break Toby Gerhart's all-time Stanford single-season rushing mark in the Rose Bowl. After the game, Will Sutton -- who had zero tackles despite the Sun Devils being on defense for forty-two minutes -- digs the Defensive Player of the Year trophy out of his locker and presents to Murphy during the trophy ceremony. It's a touching moment.
Q: What's your worst case scenario?
JB: The first 12 minutes of the USC game for the entire Pac-12 title game. The offense looks like a disorganized mess, nobody is able to make a big play, and the defense is routinely sliced apart, making Taylor Kelly a Heisman contender in just one game. And then David Shaw leaves to coach at Cal.
JJ: Todd Graham looks at tape of the Stanford-Utah game and decides to throw swing passes on every play. Each one leads to at least a 15-yard gain. Meanwhile, David Shaw looks to outsmart Graham by going with the Wildcat and the Ogre package at the same time, using an extra offensive lineman as the primary ballcarrier. When Nick Saban leaves the pressure of Alabama to rebuild Cal, Shaw heads up north to Washington and Stanford hires Lane Kiffin to replace him.
HW: Those who have read my site know that I don't traffic in worst-case scenarios.
Q: Alright, it's prediction time: tell us how you see this one playing out and give us your score predictions.
JB: I think Stanford's experience in important games really helps it out here - but I think this one comes down to a last-second play. I'll cross my fingers and pick the Cardinal, 28-27.
JJ: In a back-and-forth nailbiter, Stanford has the ball down 23-21 with 10 seconds left. Instead of trying to run one more play and then spike it, Shaw elects to kick right away, and Jordan Williamson buries his first 40-yard field goal since Week 2 to give Stanford a second straight Rose Bowl berth.
HW: The game probably won't live up to the best-case scenario I laid out above, but I thin Gaffney and Murphy will still figure prominently. Gaffney will probably get at least 35 carries, and Stanford's time of possession will approach forty minutes. Ty Montgomery will also have a big game and at least one huge play. I think the Cardinal will win, but it will obviously be much closer than the September game. Stanford 27, Arizona State 17.
Darius Tahir: ASU wins, 23-17.