As of Thursday morning, Stanford is listed as seven point favorites by most Las Vegas oddsmakers.
The Odds: Stanford (-7), Arizona State (+7), Over/Under: 51
The Breakdown: Prior to Stanford's return to prominence under Jim Harbaugh, the Cardinal often faced massive spreads as heavy underdogs. Arizona State was just one of many Pac-10 teams that took advantage of Stanford's mid 2000s collapse.
In 2009, the Cardinal were favored against Arizona State for the first time since 2005. Ironically, the Cardinal were also seven-point favorites in that October showdown and they pulled out a 33-14 victory for an easy cover. Between 2006 and 2008, Arizona State covered spreads of 24, 14.5, and 14 against overmatched Stanford squads.
The last meeting between these schools took place in 2010 as the Andrew Luck-led Cardinal marched into Tempe as four-point favorites and snuck out with a 17-13 victory and a push.
This season, both teams are 2-0, but neither team has landed on the betters' good side yet. Arizona State covered a 38-point spread against Sacramento State, but did not capitalize on a 6.5-point margin against Wisconsin. The Cardinal have failed to cover in both of their games as they narrowly missed on beating a 24.5 point spread against San Jose State before coming up short of a 30.5 point margin against Army.
Expect the spread to stay relatively fluid at seven points approaching game day. The Cardinal are the No. 5 ranked team in the country, but six of their nine Pac-12 conference games last year featured final scores separated by seven points or less. Winning so many close games makes it difficult to bet on Stanford, so that's probably accounts for why the spread looks so enticing this week.
In last week's premier matchup, Alabama was favored by eight points against Texas A&M in College Station in a matchup of the No. 1 and No. 6 teams in the country. A late Aggies' touchdown helped Johnny Manziel and Co. beat the spread, but they fell 49-42.
Like the Alabama and Texas A&M game, this matchup should take in a lot of wagers because it's the only battle of ranked opponents on the docket for the weekend.
As a final note, the over/under on this game may seem low at 51. Arizona State is averaging 43.5 points per game while Stanford is up to 34.0 points per game. But in the past five matchups between these two schools, those who took the under won four times.
BCS Implications: The Stanford Cardinal have 14/1 odds of winning the national championship while the Arizona State Sun Devils' odds improved from 75/1 to 66/1 with a win against Wisconsin.