Arizona State enters the Pac-12 championship game as a slight favorite, but don’t forget that Stanford whipped the Sun Devils in September 42-28 — and the game wasn’t even that close as ASU scored 21 points in the fourth quarter.
Now the Sun Devils get a chance at a bit of redemption and what better way than to earn a spot in the Rose Bowl.
Key Defensive Player, Stanford: Safety Ed Reynolds will be called on to lead a defense that must come up with some big plays to stop ASU’s passing game. Reynolds is a two-time All-Pac 12 selection. How he disguises coverages could make a huge impact in the outcome of the game and create some turnovers.
Key Defensive Player, Arizona State: DT Will Sutton was recently named the Pac-12 Player of the Year and will likely be a first-team All-American. Every opponent had to game plan for Sutton and Stanford will do the same. He won’t get as many sack opportunities because the Cardinal will try to establish the run, but if Stanford falls behind and has to rely on the pass watch out for Sutton.
Key Offensive Player, Stanford: RB Tyler Gaffney stirs the Cardinal offense. If Stanford can force feed a steady dose of Gaffney then it opens up the passing game for Kevin Hogan. Gaffney is the perfect fit for HC David Shaw’s offensive approach and he’s rushed for 1,485 yards and 17 touchdowns.
Key Offensive Player, Arizona State: QB Taylor Kelly has thrown for 3,337 yards and 27 touchdowns, but he’ll need to be even better against Stanford. Why? The Sun Devils will be without standout running back Marion Grice who is out with a leg injury.