This will be brief because the focus is now on the Rose Bowl.
Considering the stakes and the opponent, it was the Cardinal's best showing on the road this season by a factor of 10. As a result, Stanford is making its fourth consecutive BCS appearance, the longest active streak in the country.
(Oregon and Alabama are four out of the past five.)
Stanford deftly used the Sun Devils' ultra-aggressive defensive approach against them with misdirection and play-action.
Graham's tactics reminded me of the strategy used by Washington State and Cal, which loaded up to stop the run and got burned deep by play-action.
That's not the way to contain the Cardinal
For all the talk about the change in venue and ASU's improvement since the Sept. 21 game, it was basically a repeat -- except that Stanford didn't take its foot off the gas.
The Devils clearly weren't ready; they were misaligned on the Gaffney run and completely out-manned on the left edge.
The Devils were vulnerable to the play-action passes (post routes and deep crosses) that Hogan throws very well.
But the most significant part of Hogan's performance: No turnovers.
Take away the two big plays (the 51- and 65-yard touchdowns by D.J. Foster), and the Sun Devils gained a meager 195 yards.
Add another sound game from Stanford's special teams -- Graham called them the best in the conference -- and it was no contest.
The Sun Devils simply aren't built to handle Stanford.
If the teams played 10x, the Cardinal would win nine. At least.
I framed last year's Rose Bowl against Wisconsin as a matchup of fraternal twins because the Cardinal and Badgers were so similar in philosophy and personnel, and the game was a reflection:
Stanford won by six and out-gained Wisconsin by just 43 yards.
My initial impression is the Cardinal and Spartans are also similar, but perhaps not quite to the same extent: Let's call Stanford-MSU a matchup of first cousins.
Both are tough, sound, committed to running the ball and stout defensively.
Michigan State is fourth nationally in scoring defense: 12.7 ppg.
Stanford is 10th: 18.6 ppg (particularly impressive given the offenses in the Pac-12).
Michigan State leads the nation in run defense: 80.8 ypg.
Stanford is third: 91.2 ypg.
Michigan State leads the nation in third-down defense: 27.7 percent.
Stanford is 12th: 32.4 percent.
(Again, the Cardinal faced more talented and dynamic offenses in the Pac-12 than MSU did in the B1G. But make no mistake: the Spartans are sound -- they'd have been granite in any league.)
The teams have one common opponent: Notre Dame.
MSU lost in South Bend 17-13, while Stanford beat the Irish 27-20 at home.
Little to choose from there, either.
Stanford opened as a 1.5-point favorite, and the line has jumped to 3.5.
Unless there's a decisive edge in turnovers, it should be close and fairly low scoring.