Stanford Cardinal vs. Arizona State Sun Devils Preview and Pick – 24990

Stanford (1-0) +14 at Arizona (1-0) 14 O/U N/A Saturday September 6, 2009
Tempe, AZ Sun Devil Stadium (71,706) 10:00 p.m. EST
by Wilson of

Dennis Erickson, the second year coach of the Sun Devils, who has 19 years overall under his belt with an impressive 10-3 record last season will spend this week making sure his players and staff understand how important it is to win early especially in September. The team opens up their PAC 10 play this weekend in Tempe against a much-improved Stanford squad.

The Sun Devils (1-0) ATS took care of business last Saturday against perhaps a weaker opponent in NAU, but they needed the arm of Rudy Carpenter to put them over the edge as NAU went with an eight man front in order to slow down the Sun Devils running attack.

Rudy Carpenter threw for 388 yards and one touchdown while running back Dimitri Nance rushed for two touchdowns. However, the Sun Devils only managed to rush for 94 yards total. The run was stalled faced against the eight man front, but Erickson still showed some concern regarding the fact that they couldnt figure out how to beat it. It could be simply because NAU never adjusted once Carpenter opened up the passing attack. I think Arizona will burn teams all year if they try to squash the run and not address the pass.

Arizona State will be extremely tough to beat at home as they have been in the past. With seven returning starters on defense who are led by ends Luis Vasquez and Dexter Davis who combined for 15 sacks and 25 tackles for a loss last season. The defense showed its dominance against NAU by shutting them out in the first half and holding them to just 13 points.

Stanford meanwhile has made great strides from last years team by working hard in the off season and it showed in their 36-28 win over Oregon State last weekend. Even though there were a couple of bizarre plays which led to the win the Cardinal will take all the good luck charms they can get. But Coach Jim Harbaugh has done a fantastic job by instilling a hard work ethic during practices and in the off-season.

Harbaugh, according to a Pac-10 assistant coach, “is going to say and do what he feels. Most times when he runs his mouth, he’s usually been able to back it up, going all the way back to Michigan.”

Stanfords defense is now a more experienced group with 9 returning from last year. All the linebackers are back and the front four as well. Look for Bo Mc Nally to lead the team defensively as he racked up 114 tackles last year with 71 of those solo.

The Cardinals RB Toby Gerhart will be a weapon this Saturday as he is very physical and also has some hidden speed. Hes about 230-235 pounds and hes a great blocker too.

Dennis Erickson has won everywhere he has coached outside of the NFL, but he knows college football well, and is probably one of the toughest coaches to beat in the game today. His preparation for game-day is second to none. The Cardinal will need every bit of talent, execution and luck to steal one in Tempe.

Wilson’s Pick: I look for Sun Devils to come out on fire and set the tone early.The spread is currently at -14 in favor of the Devils. Erickson’s guys will be ready play. If Stanford can establish a running game behind Gerhart they might be able to compete, but I see Arizona State running away in the desert. Luck to ya.