- Kevin Gemmell, ESPN Staff Writer
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We're taking a look at the can't-miss games of the 2013 Pac-12 season. The Ultimate Road Trip continues.
Welcome to Week 4.
Saturday, Sept. 21
Arizona State at Stanford
Utah State at USC
New Mexico State at UCLA
Utah at BYU
Oregon State at San Diego State
Idaho State at Washington
Idaho at Washington State
My choice: Arizona State at Stanford
Why: Utah fans, you are excused this week. We understand. Enjoy the BYU rivalry one last time before it goes on holy hiatus. Go forth with the blessing of all other Pac-12 fan bases. May your gang be the jolliest that we have ever seen.
We're also aware of the elevated tensions in the already heated turf war between Idaho and Washington State. So if you feel you feel pulled toward Pullman, you too are excused.
As for the rest of the conference, the ASU-Stanford matchup might end up being a preview of the Pac-12 championship game. Of course, there is a lot that can happen between Week 4 and Thanksgiving, so we're not going to get too far ahead of ourselves.
Still, if the Sun Devils are who we think they are -- and if the Cardinal are who they have been -- then look out, because this could prove to be one of the marquee matchups of the 2013 season.
For starters, you have two extremely efficient quarterbacks in Taylor Kelly and Kevin Hogan -- both of whom operate different schemes, but both seem tailor-made for their systems. But the real storyline is going to be up front (as it often times is, but not always talked about).
The Cardinal have arguably the best defensive front seven in the league. ASU would argue that. But the Cardinal also have an offensive line that few would argue is inferior to anyone else in the conference, maybe the country. So you have the Stanford front trying to keep the likes of Will Sutton and Carl Bradford at bay. There is always a bit of trickery and nuance from week to week with the Cardinal attack, but for the most part, you know what's coming. They are going to run the power straight ahead and beg you to try and stop it. David Yankey vs. Will Sutton. May the best All-American win.
Meanwhile, ASU's offense will do what it can to confuse the Cardinal defense, splitting out Marion Grice and D.J. Foster while slipping Chris Coyle underneath -- all the while trying to keep Ben Gardner and Trent Murphy from greeting Kelly with their face masks. It's going to be a fun chess match with some of the league's top playmakers on both sides of the ball.
The Cardinal will be coming off their long road trip from Army while ASU will be recovering from their home game against Wisconsin. This is the second in a brutal four-game stretch for the Sun Devils (USC and Notre Dame await in the next two weeks). It's also their chance to stand up and show they deserve a seat at the table with the conference big boys.
This one qualifies as not to be missed. Unless you're a Utah fan. We get it.
1dChantel Jennings and David Lombardi