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Football predictions: Stanford vs. Arizona State

George: Stanford 31, Arizona State 24

This is the Cardinal’s first litmus test of the year. Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly really impressed me with his accurate back-shoulder throws and pocket awareness against a stout Wisconsin defense this past weekend. Reminiscent of what Arizona quarterback Matt Scott did to Stanford last year, I think Kelly will be able to frustrate the Cardinal defense with the underneath passes early in the game. After watching the Sun Devils struggle with stopping Wisconsin’s power running game, there’s reason to believe that Tyler Gaffney will be able to burst for a few big runs, which then should set up well for Kevin Hogan’s play-action passes. But I also expect the Cardinal offense to use a few wrinkles that it has been saving for this game, like using Kelsey Young on bubble screens or Stanford’s much-questioned Wildcat plays. The Cardinal should win by at least a touchdown, but it’s lucky that the game isn’t being played in the desert.

Sam: Stanford 27, Arizona State 16

This game presents a tough test for the Cardinal, though not as tough as I thought before watching the Sun Devils squeak past Wisconsin on Saturday night. Defensive tackle Will Sutton leads a strong Arizona State defense that could present some problems for Kevin Hogan and company, but the Badgers exposed some serious gaps on the edge that Stanford has the personnel to exploit. Look for Stanford to give Sparky a heavy dose of Kelsey Young and Ty Montgomery on the outside—both of them run a similar type of sweep to that of Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon, who gashed the Sun Devils all night long—and for the Cardinal defense to come up big behind what should be a pretty wild freshmen-led crowd.

Michael: Stanford 34, Arizona State 20

Coming off of one of the most bizarre endings to a game in college football history, Arizona State is very fortunate to be standing at 2-0. Wisconsin’s running game gashed the Sun Devils for 231 yards, exposing what once appeared to be a stout run defense. Tyler Gaffney and Anthony Wilkerson will look to do the same, although All-American defensive tackle Will Sutton will be a challenge for the middle of the offensive line. Expect Stanford to establish the run early but to do the most damage later through deep passes to Ty Montgomery and Devon Cajuste. Kevin Hogan threw a few longer passes against Army, including three touchdown passes of more than 20 yards, and against an Arizona State team looking to improve upon its run defense, the opportunities will be available to make big plays in the passing game. The game will stay close in the first half, but Hogan and the wide receivers will blow it open in after halftime.

Contact George Chen at gchen15 ‘at’ stanford.edu, Sam Fisher at safisher ‘at’ stanford.edu and Michael Peterson at mrpeters ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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