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ASU vs. Stanford: Complete game preview and TV schedule

The Sun Devils host No. 23 Stanford in a crucial Pac-12 matchup Saturday night in Sun Devil Stadium.

Victor Decolongon

No. 23 Stanford Cardinal (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) vs. No. 17 Arizona State Sun Devils (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. PT/10:30 p.m. EST

Location: Tempe, Ariz. - Sun Devil Stadium

Television: ESPN (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Jessica Mendoza)

Radio: Arizona Sports 98.7 FM/Sirus 92 (Tim Healy, Jeff Van Raaphorst, Doug Franz)

Weather: The forecast on Saturday calls for a high of 90 degrees and a low of 66 degrees. Should be around 70 degrees at kickoff with partly cloudy skies.

What to wear: The Sun Devils will be dressed in all maroon Saturday night, so fill the stands with maroon.

Series History: Despite their recent struggles against the Cardinal, the Sun Devils still lead the all-time series 16-13. However, Arizona State is just 1-4 against Stanford in their last five meetings and have not beaten the Cardinal since 2008.

Stanford's season to date: The Cardinal have had an up-and-down campaign so far in 2014. Stanford started the season by throttling UC Davis 45-0, but fell for the second straight season to USC, this time at home by a score of 13-10.

The Cardinal won their next two games, including a victory on the road against Washington, before falling to Notre Dame on the road 17-14. Stanford improved their record to 4-2 with a 34-17 victory over Washington State.

The Cardinal are struggling on offense, ranking No. 85 in the nation in rushing and No. 89 in points per game. No Stanford running back has eclipsed 300 yards this season and the Cardinal are averaging 26.3 points per game.

Arizona State on offense: The question remains of just who will be taking snaps on Saturday night. Todd Graham has hinted that both quarterbacks will see playing time and there are many in the media speculating that once again it will be Mike Bercovici starting. Many fans will ask: is that such a bad thing?

In two starts, Bercovici has thrown for 1,077 yards and nine touchdowns. He became the first quarterback to ever throw five touchdown passes against USC, a record that stood for 125 years. Most importantly, the Sun Devils did not commit a turnover in their victory over USC on Oct. 4.

"When we take care of the football, it all takes care of its self," said Graham. "We have great players who are capable of making great plays - D.J. (Foster) being one of them. He is a guy that is capable of breaking through and taking it to the house. We have a few players capable of that, and we are developing the younger ones to do the same."

No matter who is at quarterback against Stanford, the Sun Devils will look to get the running game back on track. The Sun Devils rushed for 138 yards against UCLA and just 31 yards against USC. Foster over his last two games has 19 carries for 43 yards. Arizona State will also look for more production out of its tight ends, a position which has 10 catches through the first five games of the season.

"Probably the area that I want us to improve at, and where we have already made huge improvements with, is the tight end position," said Graham. "I think we can keep progressing because De'Marieya is finally getting healthy. Look for him and Kody to really step up."

Key Matchups

QB Mike Bercovici vs. FS Zach Hoffpauir: The junior safety leads Stanford with eight passes defended. He ranks fourth on the team with 27 total tackles, including three tackles for loss. Hoffpauir is the leader of the Stanford secondary and Bercovici has to limit his mistakes. Hoffpauir will likely be one of the players that is tasked with providing help to whichever corner is covering Jaelen Strong.

LT Jamil Douglas vs. OLB Peter Kalambayi: The sophomore from Matthews, North Carolina, leads Stanford with 4.5 sacks. Kalambayi also has 5.5 tackles for loss and an interception. Arizona State has only allowed seven sacks this season, keeping whichever quarterback upright will be a key against the Cardinal.

Arizona State on defense: The Sun Devils rank No. 10 in the conference in total defense, allowing an average of 452.6 yards per game, that also puts them No. 100 nationally. Clearly, the defense is experiencing some growing pains but also consider the competition the team has been playing.

Each of Arizona State's three conference opponents rank inside the top 50 nationally in total offense (yes even Colorado). They have had to face Brett Hundley, Cody Kessler and Nelson Spruce, along with the triple-option look of New Mexico.

The Sun Devils have struggled the most against the run this season. USC running back Javorious Allen rushed for 143 yards and two touchdowns against the Sun Devils. UCLA running Paul Perkins 137 yards on just 14 carries. Arizona State ranks last in the conference in rushing defense.

"What makes them (Stanford) a challenge is that they are one of the best teams in the league, one of the best prepared and one of the most disciplined. They are not going to beat themselves," said Graham. "The key to this game will be winning the battle and controlling the football, as well as winning the battle up front. We also need to be able to run the football and stop the run. Every week that is going to determine your fate. Whoever takes care of the ball is going to win."

Expect to see a more traditional front for the Sun Devils against Stanford. Arizona State has been running Mo Latu and Jaxon Hood as defensive tackles with Marcus Hardison and Edmond Boateng serving as ends in the more traditional 4-3 look.

Laiu Moeakiola was in a green, non-contact jersey most of the week, meaning Christian Sam will likely see some playing time at SPUR linebacker even if Moeakiola starts.

"Probably the only difference we have noticed from this year to last is in turnovers," said Graham. "These are very uncharacteristic and we can't depend on them. You have to focus on yourself, your execution and your ability to execute the schemes. That is the key; it's about blocking, tackling, making sure you are lined up and not having mental errors."

Key Matchups

RT Kyle Murphy vs. DE Marcus Hardison: Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat is one of the best left tackles in the country and a projected 1st round draft pick come next April. He is the only mainstay on an offensive line that lost four starters from last season.

If the Sun Devils are going to have success rushing the passer it will most likely come from the right side, against Murphy and right guard Johnny Caspers.

WR Ty Montgomery vs. CB Lloyd Carrington/CB Kweishi Brown: Montgomery is the best weapon on the Stanford offense. He leads Stanford with 359 receiving yards and his 37 catches are more than double the amount of Devon Cujuste, who is second with 18.

Montgomery is only averaging 9.7 yards per catch, but he is also averaging over six catches per game. He is Kevin Hogan's safety blanket and expect him to see a lot of action on Saturday.

Final Breakdown

The long story short is Stanford is much better on defense and much worst on offense than they were in 2013. The Cardinal lead the conference and are No. 2 nationally in total defense. However, they rank last in the conference in scoring offense and No. 11 in total offense. The Cardinal will be without their second leading receiver Devon Cujuste, who will miss the game because of injury.

Defensively, the Cardinal are disciplined and well-coached. In their two losses this season, Stanford has surrendered a total of 30 points. In their four wins, they have surrendered a total of 30 points. A.J. Tarpley and James Vaughters lead a very experienced linebacking corps that is one of the best in the conference.

Final Prediction: Stanford 20, Arizona State 14