The Arizona State Sun Devils enter Saturday's game against Stanford as the clear cut underdogs for the first time this season.
But what the oddsmakers in Vegas don't realize is that Lady Luck is squarely in ASU's corner (or at least she was for the final 18 seconds of last Saturday's game).
So will that be enough for any of our staff members to go with the bold road upset? Read below to find out:
Kerry Crowley: Stanford 31, Arizona State 20
The Stanford Cardinal impress me as much as any other team in the country including Alabama. I've followed the program closely since the Tyrone Willingham days and the Cardinal's rise from the ashes in the Jim Harbaugh era is truly astounding to the people that saw the teams fielded by Buddy Teevens and Walt Harris.
Today, David Shaw coaches the Cardinal and he has proven more than capable to follow in Harbaugh's shoes. In fact, Shaw might even be the better college coach as he's continued to innovate the running game while making the most of his personnel. The Cardinal boast a rugged offensive attack that requires disciplined linemen and smart running backs. On defense, the Cardinal have athletic playmakers with non-stop motors. Unlike Oregon, this team isn't built on speed, its built on flawless execution.
Stanford is a business-like team, and it's a program that Todd Graham wants to model the Sun Devils after. After this game, we'll know a lot more about the progress Graham has made in two seasons. Under Dennis Erickson, I would say that Arizona State couldn't compete with a team like the Cardinal. Under Graham, I know the Sun Devils belong in the conversation. Still, I wouldn't bet against David Shaw.
Bold Prediction: Stanford has at least 35 minutes of possession against the Sun Devils.
Nick Krueger: Stanford 38, ASU 35
Well if their is something to take away from last week, it's that football is a crazy game where anything can happen.
It's going to be close. Stanford, like Wisconsin, has played nobody yet and still squeaked out wins. I don't buy the "that's the way Stanford wins games" argument. Either you can beat a team and blow them out or you can't because you weren't good enough that day.
The Cardinal just happen to be really good at winning close games in the Shaw era, that's my explanation for it. As for flow of the game, as I wrote earlier this week Arizona State wins this game on paper. I have a feeling ASU jumps out to a 14-0 lead like Alabama against Texas A&M and Stanford climbs their way back into it for a shootout in the fourth quarter.
Regardless this is going to be a fun one to watch especially with Gus Johnson in the booth. When it comes to offensive personnel, the Sun Devils have the edge their too. As Stanford only has really one running back and wide receiver to go to in Tyler Gaffney and Ty Montgomery with Hogan under center while Arizona State has too many weapons to count that all have to be accounted for.
It's going to come down to which team can impose their tempo. Will Stanford methodically drive down the field every time keeping the ball for half a quarter or more? Or can Taylor Kelly get the Sun Devil offense moving at a blistering pace down field for quick strikes to wear down the Stanford defense?
I'm only picking Stanford because it's David Shaw and they're in Palo Alto. Arizona State is a program on the rise of course. Maybe next year but this is too big a step up to win a Pac-12 road game against a top five team in the country.
Bold Prediction: Arizona State leads 21-7 at halftime.
Ryan Bafaloukos: Stanford 24 Arizona State 13
I do agree with Nick that Stanford has not looked invincible, however I don't see two double-digit victories as squeaking out wins. Something Todd Graham said this week is that he doesn't think Stanford has put in its full defensive schemes in the first two weeks, meaning the Cardinals haven't shown everything they will throw at Arizona State.
The key matchup to me is the Arizona State offensive line against the Stanford pass rush. No team got to the quarterback more last year than Stanford. It will also be important for the Sun Devils to establish a running game and take some pressure off Taylor Kelly.
I do not think this game will be a blowout, however it is very tough to beat the Stanford at home. I think the game will be very close at halftime and then Stanford will extend the lead towards the end of the game. In order to win a game like this, ASU can't have any mental mistakes and I don't see them being able to do that.
Bold Prediction: Marion Grice will have the most total yards of any skill position player on the field for either team.
Cody Ulm: Stanford 27, Arizona State 20
If Arizona State had a few more road games under its belt I'd feel more confident. But since this is the first game away from Sun Devil Stadium and all I get to base this off is how they played on the road last season, there's no way I can go with an upset.
The tempo of this game will be an ongoing battle and I can see the Sun Devils controlling it for a least short periods in the first half. Once we get into the third and fourth quarter though, Stanford will be busting out their trademark, exhaustively long drives.
If the Devils are going to have a chance, they can't give up on the run game. Marion Grice will be lucky to average four yards a carry Saturday but that doesn't mean they should stop feeding him. I'd like to seem ASU continually pound the ball between the tackles with Grice then try to exploit the edges with D.J. Foster. As impressed as I've been with Taylor Kelly this season, this is not his game to win.
Arizona State just needs to stay level-headed and avoid giving up the big plays on defense. In the end, I doubt either of those things happen and Stanford should walk away up at least two in the takeaway department.
Bold Prediction: Taylor Kelly does not throw for a touchdown Saturday.