Stanford didn’t have much time to bask in the glow of its exhilarating overtime win over third-ranked Oregon.
Instead, with a short week before facing another ranked opponent, the Cardinal needed to refocus quickly in preparation for Friday night’s game at No. 22 Arizona State (7:30 p.m, ESPN).
“When I was standing outside (the locker room Saturday) waiting for guys to come in, I didn’t see anybody bringing a trophy,” Stanford coach David Shaw said. “There’s no trophy for beating Oregon. It was a great effort, big game. They should enjoy it—they accomplished something that’s really great—but in the process of our season it’s not the be-all and end-all.”
Next up for Stanford (3-2, 2-1) is its fourth ranked opponent in five weeks. The South Division-leading Sun Devils (4-1, 2-0) are coming off a 42-23 victory over a UCLA team that won at Stanford Stadium earlier this season.
Here are the keys if Stanford hopes to knock off another Top 25 team:
UCLA’s Dorian-Thompson Robinson put up 35 points against the Cardinal, who were more successful containing Oregon’s Anthony Brown last Saturday. Next up is another dual-threat QB who might be the best in the conference due to his passing ability.
Jayden Daniels showed off his arm strength and accuracy with four passes of more than 40 yards against the Bruins, while also running for 45 yards on six carries. The junior is currently 10th in the FBS in yards per attempt (9.6).
While Daniels was named the Pac-12 offensive player of the week, his counterpart, Tanner McKee, was named Pac-12 freshman of the week after he became the first freshman QB to beat a top 5 team since Bo Nix led Auburn over Alabama in 2019.
McKee has thrown multiple touchdown passes in all four of his career starts and is one of three QBs in the country with at least 10 TDs and no INTs, along with Malik Wills of Liberty and Matt Corral of Ole Miss. But this will also be his first game without No. 1 wideout Brycen Tremayne, who appeared to suffer a significant leg injury against the Ducks.
McKee will face an ASU secondary that has 143 career starts, a total that is second in the nation behind Indiana.
STOP THE RUN
This will be a matchup of ASU’s strength vs. Stanford’s weakness. Arizona State has an FBS-leading 32 rushing touchdowns in its last eight games, and has run for 150 yards or more in 10 straight games. Stanford is last in the Pac-12 in rushing defense, having allowed 215.6 yards a game.
The combination of Daniels and Rachaad White (eight rushing TDs) will be another tough challenge for the struggling unit.
While Tremayne had the most serious injury against Oregon, Stanford will be missing more key contributors following the Oregon game, including kicker Joshua Karty.
The top candidates to replace Karty are junior punter Ryan Sanborn and true freshman Emmet Kenney. Sanborn, a junior punter, actually took over when kicker Jet Toner was injured in 2019 and made 7-of-9 field goals, with a long of 48 yards. Kenney was Kohl’s Kicking Camps’ No. 21 kicker in the nation but has not played collegiately.
This will be the first short week of the season for Stanford, with travel thrown in. Shaw called Sunday and Monday “an absolutely complete fire drill” as they compressed two days of preparation into one, while also balancing the need to recuperate after a physical game against Oregon.
“We had to do a little bit more than usual but at the same time try to take care of some of our guys that are banged up,” Shaw said.
How Stanford navigates those competing priorities will be key to its performance on Friday night.