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ASU’s Graham spews respect for David Shaw heading into Stanford game

Arizona State coach Todd Graham watches his team during an NCAA college football game against Texas Tech, Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, in Lubbock, Texas. (Brad Tollefson/Lubbock Avalanche-Journal via AP)
LISTEN: Todd Graham, ASU football head coach

Some moments are just too painful to move on from.

A loss to David Shaw’s Stanford Cardinal in the 2013 Pac-12 Championship Game is still a tough memory for ASU head coach Todd Graham.

Stanford rolled right through the Sun Devils that December night in a 38-14 victory. It was a game where ASU found itself in a quick 21-7 hole and never got back within reach.

“Losing that game, we were one game away from the Rose Bowl. We were one game from accomplishing what we wanted to do,” Graham told Doug and Wolf on 98.7 FM, Arizona’s Sports Station. “We lost that game, and they out-disciplined us. They were definitely the better-prepared team.”

Graham has gone against Shaw three times in his career at ASU and has been triumphant once. The win came a year after the Pac-12 Championship with the Sun Devils shining in a 26-10 victory in Tempe in 2014.

Shaw is a coach that Graham likes to use as a measuring stick for his own coaching success and always appreciates the challenge of going against the successful Stanford coach.

“When I go against Coach Shaw, I take a lot of pride because you are going against the best,” Graham said. “I want to be the best and you’ve got to compete with the best. You can’t even mention doing that until you beat him.”

A lot has changed for Graham since that Pac-12 title game. The Sun Devils’ coach is 23-20 since then and has felt his seat get a little warmer due to ASU’s mediocre record.

For Shaw, not much has changed. Stanford is 32-13 since that meeting four years ago and is running one of the most consistent, successful programs in the Pac-12.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for him,” Graham said. “Over my six years in this conference, it’s not even a question who has gotten it done. He’s done it the way we believe it should be done. With character, smart, disciplined and tough guys.”

Stanford has only turned the ball over four times through the first five weeks of the season.

The good news for the Sun Devils — they have taken great care of the ball as well, committing only three turnovers over the season’s first quarter. Quarterback Manny Wilkins has yet to throw an interception. In fact, the redshirt junior has thrown 140 passes without getting picked off. Only North Carolina State’s Ryan Finley (159 attempts) has gone longer this year without being intercepted.

The bad news for ASU — Stanford has done a great job forcing turnovers. As a team, they have seized eight so far this season, a mark that is tied for 25th in the nation.

“Our kids have a lot of respect for them as well,” Graham said. “They know when you go in there you’ve got to out-discipline them. They (Stanford) are not going to beat themselves”

The two schools are coming off victories last week as Stanford crushed UCLA 58-34 and ASU pulled off an upset of then-24th ranked Oregon 37-35.

“The only way you’re going to go beat them is if you kick their butt,” Graham said. “You’ve got to do that with discipline and character.”

The Sun Devils and Cardinal face each other at 1:00 p.m. Saturday and all the action can be heard on ESPN 620 AM.

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