There wasn't really a defining moment in the 2013 Pac-12 Championship that could change the outcome of the game. No missed field goal, goal-line interception or late-game defensive stand.
Instead, Stanford scored on the first drive of the game in two plays, with a 69-yard run from senior RB Tyler Gaffney. By halftime, the score was 28-14 in favor of the Cardinal. After a lackadaisical second-half effort from Todd Graham’s offense (54 yards from scrimmage in the second half, specifically), Stanford clinched its second-straight Pac-12 title before falling to Michigan State in the Rose Bowl.
Maybe our “defining moment” was the whole game. What happens if ASU caught Stanford off guard and pulled off the upset? The Sun Devils, led by RB D.J. Foster, WR Jaelen Strong and K Zane Gonzalez, would have upgraded from the Kraft Holiday Bowl to face Michigan State for the first time since a 20-17 ASU victory in 1986.
That wouldn’t be the only impact though. It could have had a long-term impact on Todd Graham’s coaching career, who was criticized for his inability to show up in the biggest games of the season. He signed a string of one-year contract extensions at the ends of the 2013, ‘14, ‘15 and ‘16 seasons. A Rose Bowl appearance, the team’s first since 1997, and third overall, would have given him the leverage he lacked in negotiating a longer-term contract.
It doesn’t stop there. An all-purpose running back by the name of Christian McCaffrey was finishing his senior season at Valor Christian in Highlands Ranch, Colorado, at the time of the 2013 Pac-12 Championship. Among his 22 offers were both Stanford and Arizona State.
It’s exciting to imagine that if Arizona State won the 2013 title, McCaffrey could have worn maroon and gold. But he didn’t. He wore cardinal and white, and rushed for a hair under 4,000 yards in his three-year college career.
The Sun Devils went on to sign Kalen Ballage, Manny Wilkins and Renell Wren that year, though, so it’s safe to say Graham landed on his feet.