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ASU Football: Stanford players to watch

A Sun Devil defense that improved last week, will have to continue to do the same against the Cardinal.

NCAA Football: UCLA at Stanford Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

After starting the year out ranked in the Associated Press top-25, the Stanford Cardinal (2-2, 1-1 Pac-12) hit a road bump and fell out.

With an 18-point loss to now-No. 5 USC, the Cardinal tried to rebound against San Diego state but lost that game by three, 20-17. However, they took a step in the right direction against UCLA with a 58-34 blowout victory.

Stanford has been right up there with the Oregon Ducks as one of the best teams in the Pac-12 North over the past 10 years. To find the last time the Cardinal went under-.500, you would have to search back to 2008 when they went 5-7.

The Arizona State Sun Devils (2-2, 1-0 Pac-12) will roll into Palo Alto, California on the heels of an impressive 37-35 victory over then-No. 24 Oregon. David Shaw will have a few players that the Sun Devils need to key in on to steal a victory on the road.

Bryce Love - Junior RB

Another week, and another big matchup against one of the nations top running backs. With matchups against senior RBs Rashaad Penny and Royce Freeman out of the way, the Sun Devils will have to face the nation’s leading rusher. Love has run for 787 yards on 73 carries, giving him an average of 10.8 yards per carry. That is already more yards than he had all of last season. Coming off his most impressive game of the year, in which he carried the ball 30 times for 263 yards and one touchdown, he will look to exploit the ASU front seven.

In order to stop the 5-foot-10, 196-pound running back, the Sun Devils will have to minimize the big plays. Giving up an average of 4.71 yards per carry sticks ASU at the 75th rushing defense in the country. If they can stack the box and contain Love, they can limit his damage.

K.J. Costello - Redshirt Freshman QB

Costello is not the normal starter for the Cardinal, but after senior QB Keller Chryst went down with an injury, Costello came in and stabilized the Cardinal offense. While he did not have to do much of the heavy lifting because of Love running wild, Costello still threw for two touchdowns on 13 completions. It would be the young quarterback’s first ever start.

If he was to get the start, the Sun Devils would have to shut down the run game to force Costello into predictable passing situations, otherwise play-action could make them pay.

Justin Reid - Junior SS

The Cardinal defense has been hot and cold this season, but Reid has been having a strong season so far. Third on the team in total tackles, with 25, and 17 of them coming by himself, Reid is likely around the ball. He has two interceptions, which also leads the Cardinal defense. Redshirt junior QB Manny Wilkins has not thrown an interception so far this year and the Sun Devils have relied heavily on the passing attack for offense. Look for Reid to be an impact player throughout the game.

In a game where Oregon was favored by 14-points in Sun Devil Stadium, fans were happily surprised when ASU pulled out the upset victory. Last time the Sun Devils travelled to Palo Alto was back in 2013, and they dropped that game 42�-28- -28. It will take a big effort for ASU to steal a win this year, and it all starts with stopping the run.