- Dec 7, 2013; Tempe, AZ, USA; Stanford Cardinal quarterback Kevin Hogan (8) throws a pass in the second half against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sun Devil Stadium. Stanford defeated Arizona State 38-14. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Stanford Cardinal, winners of the Pac-12 for the second-consecutive season return to the Rose Bowl, the scene of their 20-14 triumph over Wisconsin.
The Cardinal are a team wrought with discipline, much like their head coach David Shaw. The Cardinal routinely rank in the top-20 nationally in total defense, and this year was no different. They ranked 16th nationally allowing only 339 yards per game and 18.6 points per game.
Stanford is at its best is when put in high-profile games, like against Oregon or Arizona State in the Pac-12 title game. For the past two seasons, the Cardinal have found a way to stymie the Oregon Ducks and ruin their BCS National Title aspirations. In the Pac-12 title game, Stanford had to travel to the hostile environment of Tempe, AZ to square off with the Arizona State Sun Devils, a team that they had handily beaten early in the season. Many believed that Arizona State was much improved since the early season meeting. in fact, Vegas had the Sun Devils as a favorite in the game. From the get-go, the Cardinal controlled the game and won easily 38-14.
Stanford is a team that generally lacks national notoriety but has been a team that has always managed to handle its business. When the Cardinal have been faced with a challenge, Coach Shaw and his players have always been able to rise to the occasion. Now that the Big Ten Champion Michigan State Spartans come calling, look for the Cardinal to be at their best once again.
On offense, the Cardinal are paced by their junior quarterback Kevin Hogan. Hogan was the Pac-12′s 11th ranked passer in terms of passing yards. The Pac-12 is a conference noted for their ability to throw more than they run. The Cardinal are a team that goes against that edict. So, while Hogan did not throw for the most yards, he was an efficient game manager. He threw for nearly 2,500 yards and 20 touchdowns. However, it was not just his arm that opposing defenses feared, it was Hogan’s ability to tuck the ball and run that kept them on their toes. Hogan was the Cardinal’s third leading rusher with over 300 yards.
While Hogan can tuck the ball and run, the primary back for Stanford is senior Tyler Gaffney. Gaffney ran for over 1,600 yards and 20 touchdowns. He managed to rush for over 100 yards in nine of the team’s 13 games including seven of his last eight games. An interesting aspect of the Rose Bowl game will be the ability of the Michigan State defensive line and linebackers to curtail the running ability of Gaffney and company.
At the wide receiver position, Stanford features junior Ty Montgomery. Montgomery is just 63 yards shy of reaching 1,000 yards on the season. He has also hauled in 10 TD passes. Devon Cajuste also had good season. He reeled in five touchdown passes and averaged 21.9 yards per catch. Both he and Montgomery will need to play well against one of the nation’s best secondary. Dennard matched up with Montgomery should be one of the more intriguing matchups within the Rose Bowl game.