The Stanford Cardinal kicked off their 2013 Pac 12 schedule at home against the upset-minded No. 23 Arizona State Sun Devils on Saturday. It was the first of several tests that await the Cardinal as they try to defend their conference title in 2013, but Stanford was more than up to the challenge. With ASU now in their rear view, David Shaw will get his team prepared to tackle the rest of their challenging slate of games.
Arizona State is still a dangerous team in the Pac 12 South and will challenge for a spot in the conference title game at the end of the season. The strength and experience of Stanford was just too much to overcome for this team as they try and figure out how to get it done with the best. They won’t have much time to lick their wounds, however, as their early-season challenges continue next week with the USC Trojans coming to Tempe.
Stanford flexed their muscle on Saturday and leaned on their experience of winning big games to not let this one get away from them. Shaw knows that his gameplan is a winning one, using his defense and running game to control the flow of games. He faced a challenge unlike any that Stanford had faced in their non-conference schedule as the Devils used a spread attack designed to test defenses in a major way.
Their ability to handle ASU’s attack bodes well for Stanford’s chances the rest of the way. The Pac 12 is filled with high-powered offenses that use a spread attack that will take their shot at the Cardinal this season. The Oregon Ducks, in particular, employ one of the best spread attacks in all of college football and will be the biggest challenge that Stanford has to overcome to get back to the Pac 12 title game at the end of the season.
There is still plenty of hurdles in Stanford’s way the rest of the season, but getting part their first in ASU is an excellent start. By handling their business at home, the Cardinal remain on the inside track for a shot at a BCS National Championship berth and a second straight Pac 12 championship.