The Pac-12 Championship Game features one team that was expected to be here, the Stanford Cardinal, and one team that was given a shot but was not quite viewed as the favorite in its own division (the Arizona State Sun Devils). The winner of this game goes to the Rose Bowl, while the loser of this game will go to a second-tier bowl. The stakes are very high on a night when Arizona State will try to return to the Rose Bowl for the first time since 1997.
Pac-12 Championship Game
Stanford Cardinal vs. Arizona State Sun Devils
Saturday, December 7th
NCAA Football Odds: Arizona State -3
Why Stanford Can Cover The Spread:
Their power run game and their physical defensive line are perfectly suited to disrupt and dismantle Arizona State’s strengths. Arizona State wants to establish a fast tempo on offense and get as many offensive plays as possible. The Sun Devils, like other teams across the country that rely on a fast-tempo offense, want to wear down opposing defenses with high numbers of snaps. However, Stanford’s ability to first control the ball on offense with the power running of Tyler Gaffney is something that can keep Arizona State’s offense off the field. The Cardinal’s defense has the strength and power in its front seven, especially the front four, to physically overwhelm Arizona State’s offensive line and prevent the Sun Devils from gaining any rhythm on offense. Stanford limited Arizona State to just seven points in the first three quarters of the game these two teams played just over two months ago. Yes, Arizona State will make some adjustments in this game, but the Sun Devils and head coach Todd Graham will be without their leading rusher, Marion Grice, who suffered an injury on Nov. 23 against UCLA. Arizona State is missing an important piece as it tries to gain some revenge on Stanford. You have to realize that Stanford shut down Oregon this season, and the Ducks have an offense that is just as good as Arizona State’s, if not slightly better.
Why Arizona State Can Cover The Spread:
They are playing at home against an opponent that has not handled road games all that well this season. Stanford lost at Utah and USC this year. The Cardinal were not sharp at Army. They were not very strong at Oregon State, winning by only one score against the 6-6 Beavers. Quarterback Kevin Hogan plays well at home, but he is not as good on the road. He just doesn’t make the dynamic plays that show up when he’s placed in a more comfortable environment. This is the biggest Arizona State home game in 17 years, since a 1996 win over Nebraska, a game that catapulted the Sun Devils to the No. 2 national ranking heading into the 1997 Rose Bowl against Ohio State. The Sun Devils might be without Marion Grice, but they’ll play with a lot of energy and cover the spread.
This game comes down to the fact that Stanford punishes up-tempo offenses. The Cardinal have the formula to beat these kinds of opponents. Bet Stanford in this situation, even though it’s a road game.
Pick: Stanford +3