TEMPE, AZ - At first glance, Sun Devil Stadium might appear to be a neutral site. At least, that's the aim of the conference, which replaced all existing ASU logos with Pac-12 signage and emblems in preparation for the Pac-12 Championship game.
However, to the ear, the crowd noise figures to make for a dominant home field advantage for Arizona State.
The Devils will square off against Stanford, the defending Rose Bowl champion, which won the regular season meeting 42-28 after racing out to a 29-0 halftime lead. ASU hasn't been to the Rose Bowl since 1997.
How can ASU return to Pasadena for the first time since Jake Plummer, Pat Tillman and that beloved ASU squad?
RUN STOPS HERE: In the first meeting, ASU allowed 240 rushing yards, the second-most given up by the Devil defense this year. Stanford RB Tyler Gaffney ran for 95 yards and two touchdowns. Over his past seven games, the Stanford senior has over 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Cardinal averages over 200 yards rushing per game.
SPECIAL TEAMS SANITY: At Stanford, the ASU special teams were anything but special. In truth, the multiple gaffes were disastrous. Not only did the Devils commit turnovers (two blocked punts) but they lost the field position game by allowing big returns.
WILL SUTTON vs. POWER O: Stanford is known for a power running game. Leading the way is an offensive line that averages 6-foot-6 and 305 pounds. Will Sutton, repeat winner of the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year award, must lead an ASU defense that has faced a couple other power rushing attacks in Wisconsin and Notre Dame.
HOME FIELD ADVANTAGE: For the first time since 2004, ASU went undefeated (7-0) at Sun Devil Stadium. On the other hand, Stanford has the experience of playing in the past two Pac-12 Championship games, plus Stanford has won its last nine games against Top-25 opponents.
QB QUESTION: Taylor Kelly wound up earning 2nd team All-Pac-12 honors while leading ASU to a ten win campaign. Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan completed 11 of 17 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns to Ty Montgomery in Stanford's win over ASU earlier this season.