We all knew this day would come. We've put it off for so long, but it was inevitable. Yes, it's Stanford week.
And with that I welcome you to another week of the Cynical Sun Devil. It's been all smiles around Tempe since the "Jael Mary", but fear not, Stanford is here to ruin our fun once again. Arizona State lucked out back in 2012 when the Pac-12 scheduling rotation gave them a two-year break from Oregon, but in the Ducks' place in the Sun Devil 2013/14 schedules, it was fellow Pac-12 North power Stanford that stepped in.
The Cardinal have done a pretty good job of imitating the Oregon-Arizona State relationship, making the lives of Sun Devils everywhere miserable. One 42-28 shellacking in Palo Alto that wasn't as close as the final score indicated and a 38-14 romp in the Pac-12 title game in Tempe are two of Stanford's most recent crimes against the Sun Devil psyche.
But this year is different, right? For starters, Arizona State comes into its game with Stanford having played one less game than the Cardinal, but still holding a better record. Stanford has already lost to a USC team that Arizona State recently upended. Camp Fargo has been popping all week and all of Tempe is ready to get its revenge.
But the problem with that is that it's the same exact situation that Arizona State faced last season when Stanford came to Tempe for the Pac-12 title game. Arizona State held a better conference record, had beaten both USC and Utah, teams that beat Stanford in 2013, and momentum seemed to be on the Sun Devils' side. We all know how that worked out.
Look, there isn't much more I'd like to see than an Arizona State win this Saturday, as Stanford is just so good at annoying everyone who doesn't have a direct affiliation with the university. The Stanford band's halftime performance on Sun Devil turf last season, playing bad pop songs while parading around in outfits that looked like they were picked out by an early 2000's pop star, cemented my distaste for the Cardinal. But there's something frustratingly-respectable about the Stanford, and it demands my cynicism.
The Cynical Sun Devil's Worst (actually kind of not bad) Case Scenario
Still without a clue that their presence on our field (or any field not in Palo Alto for that matter) is absolutely not wanted, the Stanford band decides to make the trip to Tempe with the team. Once they arrive, the band proceeds to march its way down Mill Avenue, playing Bad Romance and scaring children with their oddly-demonstrated enthusiasm.
Almost as bad as the Stanford band, the Arizona State defense takes one step forward with an interception of Kevin Hogan in the first quarter, and then two steps back by allowing 28 second quarter points. Trailing 35-7 at halftime, the Sun Devils look to get their crowd back into it by sending out their marching band. The Stanford band joins them, and twelve seconds into Stanford's rendition of "Paparazzi," a brave Arizona State tuba player takes a stand and whacks the Stanford conductor in the groin. This sets off what becomes known as the "Brawl of the Bands," as well-dressed Sun Devils and fashion-troubled Cardinal band members duke it out on the field.
Security helps to clean up the brawl, but not before Todd Graham makes his return to the field for the second half. Making his way to the sideline, the Stanford band gathers around him, playing "We Are The Champions" and yelling their grade point averages at the Arizona State student section. One Sun Devil clarinet player tackles a Stanford trumpeter in front of Graham, using perfect form. Graham ignores it and coaches the rest of a 52-13 loss, but on Monday he gets a hold of the clarinet player and asks "How much do you know about the Devilbacker?"