Two Pac-12 games. Two victories for road teams. The schedule calls for only one game again this Saturday — ASU at Stanford — before opening to practically a full slate the following weekend, including Arizona traveling to Seattle to play Washington.
Will ASU make it 3-0 for road teams after Washington State upset USC and Oregon State won at Utah?
This is an opportunity for ASU to back up the talk about the Sun Devils being a potential Pac-12 South champion. ASU had a fortunate schedule last year under Todd Graham — which is why he’s looked upon favorably to this point — but this year’s first few weeks are a different story.
ASU is already fortunate to be 2-0 after escaping in a controversial win over a tough Wisconsin team coached by undervalued Gary Andersen.
After playing at No. 5 Stanford on Saturday, the Sun Devils host USC (which can always be dangerous because of its defense and its high level of talent), and then play against Notre Dame in Arlington, Texas. In the first six games last season, ASU played NAU and teams that would finish in the lower-half of their respective conferences — Illinois, Missouri, Cal, Colorado and Utah.
Graham’s team beat seven FBS teams that finished 30-56 (the best wins against Arizona and Navy teams that lost five games) and were beaten by five opponents that finished 42-23.
Yours truly also has much to prove after a rough start …
Morales 2013 Overall Record: 0-2 (.000).
Morales Against the Spread: 1-1 (.500).
When: Today, 4 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Stanford Stadium. TV: Fox Sports 1.
Spread: Stanford by 6.5
When does ASU play Arizona?: Nov. 30 at Sun Devil Stadium.
When does Stanford play Arizona?: The teams do not meet in the regular season.
Why Arizona State will win: Taylor Kelly, ASU’s junior quarterback, has the ability to throw off the run and make things happen, similar to what Matt Scott showed last year when he almost led the UA to a win at Palo Alto. ASU’s offense is built around quick passes by Kelly that could frustrate Stanford’s dominant front seven.
Why Stanford will win: Stanford is physical enough to overpower ASU’s point of attack and limit the Sun Devils’ running game. Stanford defensive end Ben Gardner and linebackers Trent Murphy and Shayne Skov will play on Sundays. ASU’s offensive line is suspect after the Sun Devils rushed for only 116 yards overall and an average of 2.8 yards per carry last week against Wisconsin.
Outcome: Stanford by 10.
Reason: Stanford knows how to win the big game. The Cardinal has the experience and toughness to handle ASU’s quick-read offense. The most significant question mark for ASU is if it has the stamina to hold up through four quarters on the road against a top five team like Stanford. The Cardinal should grind this out in businesslike form like we saw Kansas City do against the Eagles and their supposed high-octane offense Thursday night.