Stanford's next stop on its intended run toward the Rose Bowl - with help, of course - is right here in Tempe this Saturday. It sure is nice here this time of year. The Cardinal, up to No. 7 in the AP college football poll, won't have to battle the extreme heat after rolling over Arizona last week at home.
It will have Luck on its side - quarterback Andrew Luck, one of the top signal callers in the nation -- and it faces an ASU team that let one slip away last Saturday at USC and is under pressure to win or face the holidays out of the bowl game scene.
Conversely, the Sun Devils can actually help their arch-rival, Arizona, capture a Rose Bowl bid. An ASU win over Stanford, and U of A wins over No. 1 Oregon (yeah, right) on Nov. 26 and ASU on Dec. 2, could be what puts the Wildcats over the top.
Remember "Over the Top?" Sly Stallone as trucker Lincoln Hawk, arm-wrestling his way into his son's life?
OK back to ASU football.
ASU coach Dennis Erickson remembers watching Luck in high school and is impressed with Luck's college career, too.
"This guy is very very special," Erickson said Monday. "He redshirted one year and he probably could have played. They had a plan for him and he's an exceptional player."
Erickson has other things to deal with besides the Cardinal. His punter who had been enjoying a fine season, Trevor Hankins, was arrested for DUI on the eve of the Devils' trip to L.A. and was suspended for the game, according to a report in the Arizona Republic.
Hankins, a senior, enters the week leading the conference in yards per punt at 47.1.
"I haven't decided yet," Erickson said when asked if Hankins will play this week. "There's a possibility he'll be back but I haven't had a chance to talk to him."
No Hankins means kicker Thomas Weber would be pressed into double duty.
Erickson also has a group of injured players. Defensive end James Brooks got a concussion Saturday in the second quarter. Defensive tackle Corey Adams has a pinched shoulder nerve. Linebacker Gerald Munns has a hip pointer.
And one more cause for concern and consternation: ASU's special teams. USC blocked an ASU extra point that made a difference in the game, as the Trojans won by one, 34-33, when the blocked kick was returned for two points.
"If anybody could have told me that was going to happen, God bless you," Erickson said. "It's about accountability. We kicked the ball a lot of times in that game, blocked it perfectly every time. Then a guy isn't accountable in what he's supposed to do and flat misses a guy, and that's what happened."
Once again, the Sun Devils are on the ropes, their hopes for a bowl game fading.
"They understand where they're at and they understand what's left in our season," Erickson said of his players. "They've got a lot of pride and good leadership...they're disappointed and down [right now]. That's how all of us were."