There were many things that went right for Arizona State in 2013. Victories over UCLA and USC were achieved, as well as retaining the Territorial Cup and claiming the Pac-12 South title. But out of all of the things that the Sun Devils were able to accomplish in 2013, a victory over the Stanford Cardinal evaded them.
A program that was one of the bottom feeders of the Pac-10 for most of its existence, Stanford grew into a power program under Jim Harbaugh. However, Arizona State remained competitive with the rising Cardinal, winning three in a row over Stanford from 2006-2008. The two teams didn't play each other in 2011-2012, but Stanford entered the two-year cycle with a two-game win streak over the Sun Devils, beating Arizona State in both 2009 and 2010.
Returning from the two-year cycle in which the two teams missed each other on their schedules, Arizona State visited Palo Alto in 2013 to try and knock off the Cardinal for the first time since 2008.
Arizona State's attempt at upending Stanford got out to a poor start, as the Cardinal took a 13-0 lead after the opening quarter thanks to touchdowns from Tyler Gaffney and Ty Montgomery. An Anthony Wilkerson 12-yard run and another Montgomery receiving touchdown pushed Stanford's lead to a comfortable 27-0 lead. Arizona State didn't help itself much, giving Stanford two points on a botched punt that went for a safety.
The Sun Devils showed life in the second half, and actually made it into a competitive game before they were done. A Chris Coyle touchdown followed by a Jaelen Strong 27-yard catch pulled Arizona State to within 39-21, and the Sun Devils were within two scores after Marion Grice's 6-yard touchdown catch made it a 39-28 game. But the Sun Devil defense was not able to get the ball back, and a late Stanford field goal put the game out of reach at 42-28.
A few months later, Arizona State would get the chance to redeem itself for the performance in Palo Alto. Stanford owned the head-to-head advantage from the regular season, but the Sun Devils compiled only one conference loss while the Cardinal had fallen to Pac-12 teams Utah and USC, giving Arizona State hosting rights for the Pac-12 Championship.
A packed Sun Devil Stadium welcomed Stanford to Tempe, as what was technically a neutral site game had a crowd filled to the brim rooting for Arizona State. Analysts and pundits from around the country had picked the Sun Devils to win the game, and Tempe had the Rose Bowl on its mind.
Stanford opened up with a touchdown, scoring on a simple Tyler Gaffney run to the left. No Arizona State player could bring him down and Gaffney scampered 69 yards for the score. With Grice out due to injury, D.J. Foster became an integral part of the gameplan for Arizona State. Down 7-0, Foster capitalized on that opportunity, breaking tackles en route to a 51-yard touchdown run.
It was from there, however, that Stanford took control. A pair of Gaffney touchdowns sandwiched a Montgomery score, and Arizona State quickly found itself behind 28-7. Another Foster score, this time on a short catch-and-run that Foster took 65 yards, brought the Sun Devils back within reach at 28-14 at halftime.
The Arizona State offense was expected to break out in the second half, but rather it was the Stanford defense that stepped up. The vaunted Sun Devil attack was held to a mediocre 311 total yards, keeping both Taylor Kelly and Jaelen Strong in check. At the end of the night, Stanford has claimed the Pac-12 Championship on Arizona State's field with a 38-14 victory.