Saturday, December 7, 2013
Matchups to watch: Stanford at ASU
By Kyle Bonagura
Here are five matchups to watch in the Pac-12 Championship:
Stanford LG David Yankey vs. Arizona State DT Will Sutton: The conference's two-time Defensive Player of the Year (Sutton) and best offensive lineman (Yankey) both play on the interior and will spend a bulk of the game heading at one another. Yankey, a junior, has yet to decide on his NFL future, while Sutton will spend his Sundays next year getting paid. In the first go-round, Yankey and the Stanford offensive line neutralized Sutton, but he came on strong later in the year.
Ty Montgomery caught two touchdown passes the first time these teams met.
Stanford WR Ty Montgomery vs. Arizona State CB Robert Nelson: Montgomery rebounded from an injury-plagued sophomore season to become one of the nation's most dynamic players. A second-team All-Pac-12 selection at receiver, Montgomery will see plenty of Nelson, a first-team all-conference pick in his first season as a full-time starter.
Stanford OLB Trent Murphy vs. Arizona State LT Evan Finkenberg: There were two surprises for Stanford coach David Shaw on the All-Pac-12 team: Sutton over Murphy and the omission of Stanford left tackle Andrus Peat from the first team. Murphy, who leads the nation with 13 sacks, will have a chance to justify those minor gripes as he'll spend a lot of the day trying to get past Finkenberg -- one of the players selected in favor of
Stanford CBs Wayne Lyons/Alex Carter vs. Arizona State WR Jaelen Strong: Stanford doesn't generally assign a corner to shadow the opposing team's best corner, which means Lyons and Carter both will see time on the standout junior college transfer. Strong had at least three catches in every game this year, including 12 for 168 yards and a touchdown in the first game against Stanford.
Stanford defensive coordinator Derek Mason vs. Arizona State coach Todd Graham: Graham's high-powered offense and Mason's hard-nosed defense are the signature units for each team. In the first meeting, Stanford shut out Arizona State in the first half before the Sun Devils made the necessary adjustments to score four second-half touchdowns. Those 28 second-half points rank as the most points Stanford has allowed in an entire game this season, while the Sun Devils have been held to less than 30 on just one other occasion this year.