In a week that doesn't offer many big-time matchups, Week 4 has a showdown of top 25 teams in Stanford.
The No. 23 Arizona State Sun Devils face off against No. 5 Stanford Cardinal.
This game could go a long ways in determining the PAC 12 champion at season's end.
The Sun Devils are coming off a crazy finish against Wisconsin last week in which they won in controversial fashion.
The Sun Devils won nevertheless and have some momentum entering this week's game against Stanford. The Sun Devils will have to use their aggressive defense and explosive offense to stop the Cardinal.
The Cardinal are coming off a win over Army in which they got off to a slow start. The slow start was short lived because they had everything go their way in the second half last Saturday against Army. The Cardinal seem to be as advertised yet again this season and have hopes of winning the PAC 12 and possibly playing for a national title.
This game against the Sun Devils and Cardinal will have some say in just who wins the PAC 12. The Cardinal are in the PAC 12 North Division and the Sun Devils are from the PAC 12 South Division. If things break perfectly these two could possibly meet again in the PAC 12 title game in December. That possibility is a long ways down the road, but just something to think about.
As for the game Saturday, who will have the advantage at key spots? The defensive side of the ball may seem to easily go towards the Cardinal, but a closer look could tell otherwise. The Sun Devils play an attacking and aggressive style of defense where they like getting pressure on the opposing quarterback. This will be key in how they defend Stanford and show down the running game.
The Cardinal use quick routes to their tight ends and short patterns by wide receivers. This should allow the Cardinal time to get out quick passes to beat the pressure that the Sun Devils apply. The Cardinal run game is always crucial to their success and this week will be no different.
The Cardinal defense prides it self by playing a tough; psychical type of game where they wear down their opponents. The Cardinal have been one of the nation's top defenses in the past several seasons and this year they show no signs of slowing down. The Sun Devils' offense will be in a for a tough battle with lots of hard hitting.
I believe the one key that the Sun Devils will have to play flawless in to have a shot at winning is offense. The Sun Devils have the capability to spread teams out and use their speed to their advantage. This will have to be done in order for Arizona State to compete on Saturday and have a realistic shot at winning.
The Cardinal have had lots of success against spread teams with speed as of late. The win over Oregon last year for Stanford proved that they could match speed and shut it down with a perfect game plan. Cardinal head coach David Shaw has seemed to have the right attack and formula to defend spread teams with lots of speed since taking over as coach.
This game Saturday I believe will be a pretty nice game that will be entertaining with lots of points. I feel that these two teams are high quality teams that can compete with any team on any given Saturday. This game Saturday will be a mid 20s to low 30s scoring type of game.
I believe the Cardinal come out on top because they have the home field advantage in this one. The Cardinal will get a nice test from the Sun Devils, but will prevail and keep their national title hopes alive for at least one more week.
My final prediction is that the Stanford Cardinal defeats Arizona State Sun Devils 34-27 in a very entertaining game. The running game will be key in this one and which quarterback manages the game the best will have the upper hand. I feel the Cardinal will have those advantages and come out on top Saturday afternoon in Stanford.