Pac-12 Championship 2013: Comparing Stanford and Arizona State's Playmakers

Sean ODonnellContributor IIIDecember 7, 2013

TEMPE, AZ - NOVEMBER 30:  Quarterback Taylor Kelly #10 of the Arizona State Sun Devils drops back to pass during the college football game against the Arizona Wiildcats at Sun Devil Stadium on November 30, 2013 in Tempe, Arizona. The Sun Devils defeated the Wildcats 58-21.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Pac-12 Championship Game features a rematch from September 21st of this year when the Stanford Cardinal defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils by a score of 42-28. However, these teams have progressed throughout the season, as both currently boast 10-2 records.

The earlier matchup between these two teams was played in Stanford, while the upcoming contest will be played in Tempe.

Both of these teams feature high-powered offenses. Stanford relies heavily on its running game, and Arizona State is a pass-heavy team. Each scheme is very effective, which should lead to a great matchup on Saturday.

Let's compare several offensive playmakers from each team to see how they stack up against each other for this impending contest.


Kevin Hogan vs. Taylor Kelly

PALO ALTO, CA - NOVEMBER 23:  Kevin Hogan #8 of the Stanford Cardinal in action against the California Golden Bears at Stanford Stadium on November 23, 2013 in Palo Alto, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Both of these quarterbacks have been able to find success in their respective offenses so far in 2013. Arizona State's pass-happy offense features Kelly heavily, while Stanford tends to keep the ball on the ground, using Hogan sparingly.

The two different dynamics of these offenses show up clearly when looking at the season-long production of these quarterbacks:

Kevin Hogan vs. Taylor Kelly in 2013
Comp %YardsTDsINTsRating

Even though Kelly has been asked to do more in his offense this season, both quarterbacks have maintained the same level of efficiency, as indicated by their passer ratings.

Stanford seems to have a more balanced offensive attack; however, Kelly and Arizona State's offense have been very effective as a pass-first unit.


Tyler Gaffney vs. Marion Grice

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 16:  Running back Tyler Gaffney #25 of the Stanford Cardinal carries the ball against the USC Trojans in the second half at Los Angeles Coliseum on November 16, 2013 in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated Stanford 20-17.  (Pho
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The comparison for these running backs is relatively similar to the aforementioned comparison of quarterbacks. Gaffney has been absolutely tremendous this season. He has been the workhorse of the Cardinal offense and continues to produce despite his heavy workload.

Grice, on the other hand, has had a fine season despite his lack of carries. Due to the high-octane passing attack of Arizona State, Grice is not featured as heavily as Gaffney in his respective system. That becomes apparent when looking at what each player has accomplished so far this season:

Tyler Gaffney vs. Marion Grice in 2013

Each of these players flourished in his offensive scheme this season. Their production is quite similar despite the difference in touches, as both are averaging 5.2 yards per carry.

Both Gaffney and Grice will continue to see a good amount of work on Saturday when these teams face off.


Ty Montgomery vs. Jaelen Strong

TEMPE, AZ - OCTOBER 12:  Wide receiver Jaelen Strong #21 of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs with the football past defensive back Parker Orms #13 of the Colorado Buffaloes en route to scoring on a 69 yard touchdown reception during the first quarter of
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Another similarity between both of these teams is that each offense features a true No. 1 wide receiver. When looking at the offensive depth charts for both squads, there is a severe drop-off in production from what Montgomery and Strong have been able to do versus these teams' other receivers.

Again, there are plenty of similarities between both of these receivers, and it shows when looking over their offensive output throughout 2013:

Ty Montgomery vs. Jaelen Strong in 2013

Both of these receivers have been able to produce on similar levels. Less than one yard separates their average yards per reception. Montgomery has been able to connect for more touchdown receptions, but Strong has been targeted more often, which has allowed him to surpass the 1,000-yard mark this season.

Like both aforementioned matchups, this one remains very even.

Each of these teams seems to be able to counteract its opponent's playmakers with its own. This will certainly lead to a very exciting contest on Saturday.