There was a lot of talk out there about No. 5 Stanford not looking that good in its first two games.
Forget about that. It’s pretty clear that the Cardinal were keeping it vanilla against the likes of San Jose State and Army.
When it came time for Stanford to elevate its play against a quality opponent, David Shaw’s troops did just that, jumping out to a 29-0 lead on No. 23 Arizona State in the first half. Stanford took its foot off the gas in the second half of its 42-28 win, but there’s no doubt about it, folks, the Cardinal are legitimate national title contenders.
The Stanford defense suffocated the Sun Devils in the first two quarters, holding ASU to 103 total yards, including seven on the ground. Mind you, this was an offense averaging 495 yards and 43.5 points per game. It was no match for the quick and physical front seven of the Cardinal. All-star defensive end Henry Anderson sat out the game with a leg injury, but his replacement, Josh Mauro, stepped in and looked great, intercepting Taylor Kelly and logging another tackle for a loss. This is a deep and talented Stanford defense.
Meanwhile, quarterback Kevin Hogan was nearly flawless, completing nine of 12 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. The Cardinal exhibited almost perfect balance, rushing for 130 yards as five runners touched the ball.
This is not a case of Arizona State being overrated. The Sun Devils are serious challengers for the Pac-12 south title. It’s just that Stanford is playing at a whole different level.
For all the talk about Alabama and Texas A&M playing in the biggest game of the regular season, it might pale in comparison to November 7, when Stanford hosts Oregon.