For approximately 15 minutes of game action, it looked as if the Arizona State Sun Devils had a real chance to upend the Stanford Cardinal in the Pac-12 Championship Game. Unfortunately for ASU, however, the two teams decided to play the final 3 quarters of the game.
Stanford outscored the Sun Devils by a score of 28-7 over the final 3 periods, and with that dominance, the Cardinal raced to the Pac-12 title by the final margin of 38-14. They were utterly dominant at times during the night, with an over 200-yard edge in total offense over ASU, and it is almost more impressive that they were able to win with this level of ease despite losing the turnover battle, 1-0.
Junior quarterback Kevin Hogan was lights-out for Stanford in the game, finishing with 277 yards and a touchdown on just 18 pass attempts. The always-gritty Hogan also added 24 yards on the ground, but it was his big-play ability through the air (15.4 yards per attempt) that stood out in this one, and he was able to manage the game perfectly as a result of a stellar overall rushing attack by the team.
On the ground, the Cardinal were led by Tyler Gaffney. The senior from San Diego rushed for 133 yards and 3 touchdowns on 22 carries (6 yards per rush) and his 69-yard gallop on the first possession of the night got things started in a huge way for Stanford. To help Gaffney, though, they were able to generate more than 100 yards with 4 additional ball-carriers, including a 22-yard touchdown run from wide receiver Ty Montgomery, who also tallied a score through the air.
For the Sun Devils, this is a wildly disappointing result. Despite being the lower ranked team, ASU was favored in the game due to their home field advantage (yes, they were playing at home in a conference title game), but the wheels came off in a hurry. The craziest thing for the home team was that they didn’t make any serious mistakes, as they didn’t commit a turnover and nearly matched Stanford in 1st downs. However, Stanford displayed another gear that ASU simply couldn’t match, and the talent/power disparity was evident.
Stanford is now bound for the Rose Bowl as the Pac-12 Champion, and they looked completely deserving of that honor here. Many believe that the Pac-12 was the nation’s best conference this season, and to be honest, Stanford would have been firmly in the national title hunt if they played like this all season. With that said, they can claim their conference championship now, and with the way they looked here, their Rose Bowl opponent should be fearful.