The similarities between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Stanford Cardinal on the football field are hard not to notice.
Both teams feature power running games with big, physical offensive lines leading the way. Neither offense employs the ‘fast-break’ style of offense, instead, they opt for a deliberate, grind-it-out style.
Both teams won their respective conference title games last winter and they actually met in the Rose Bowl. Heck, both wear red and white uniforms that look almost identical.
Arizona State played and beat Wisconsin last Saturday, and this week, Todd Graham’s 23rd-ranked Sun Devils will get an up close and personal look at Stanford in Palo Alto.
ASU’s experience against the Badgers can only help them against the Cardinal, according to Stanford play-by-play announcer Scott Reiss.
“They’re not preparing for anything new in terms of scheme,” Reiss told Burns and Gambo Wednesday on Arizona Sports 620. “If I’m the (Stanford) coaching staff I have to look at this and say, ‘Man, they just played our blueprint last week.'”
The big difference between the two teams is their places in the respective rankings. Wisconsin was ranked 23rd when ASU knocked them off in Tempe. Stanford is ranked fifth in both the AP Poll and USA Today Coaches’ Poll — and they’ve been in the Top 25 for 51 consecutive weeks.
That consistency is born up front, according to Reiss.
“That’s exactly the MO of Stanford. They grind you, they grind you; it’s power, power and more power, and it makes opponents sick to death,” he said. “These seven 300-pound offensive linemen just blow by blow over the course of four quarters and then, ideally, they win the fourth quarter and they win the game.”
In fact, Stanford hadn’t yielded a fourth-quarter point in seven straight games, dating back to last year. They almost made it eight in-a-row, but Army scored a touchdown with just :17 left in the Cardinal’s 34-20 win at West Point last Saturday.
“And you’re talking about Oregon, two against UCLA, Wisconsin in the Rose Bowl — this was not a string of patsies that they played at the end of last season,” Reiss said.
Stanford’s sophomore quarterback, Kevin Hogan, has yet to taste defeat as the starting signal caller. Since taking over for Josh Nunes last November, the Cardinal have won eight straight games.
Reiss sees similarities between Hogan and his counterpart, ASU’s Taylor Kelly.
“I think the comparisons are interesting to Taylor Kelly. They’re similar in stature. I think they do a lot of the same things,” he said. “Kelly’s probably a little more refined in terms of accuracy and throwing the football, certainly on the deep ball, but I think Hogan might be a little bit better of a runner, so it will be real interesting to see them square off on opposite sides.”
Many believe ASU’s victory over Wisconsin was one you can throw in the “signature win” category. Stanford has yet to look dominant in 2013 despite wins over San Jose State and Army.
“The team has not looked the part of a top-five team in the first two games,” Reiss said. “They’ve been good but they haven’t been great, and I think Coach Shaw wants to see them be great at least for a good chunk of the football game.”