Coming into the game with the Sun Devils, the Utah Utes needed a win to keep pace with the surprising Colorado Buffaloes. The Sun Devils just needed a win. One more win for the Sun Devils and they would become bowl eligible.
The Sun Devils were coming off their bye week. The extra week of preparation came at the most opportune time for Arizona State. They were a battered and injured group of players. The Sun Devils were reeling from three consecutive losses and had no positive energy.
With this game being the Salute to Service game at Sun Devil Stadium the home town team got a little extra juice from the fans and the military personnel that were in attendance. How long would it last for the Devils?
In the first five minutes of the game there were three turnovers. Utah committed two of the miscues and the Sun Devils had one turnover. There were also a crazy amount of penalty flags during the first quarter as well. The officiating crew that the teams had was the same crew that threw a record number of flags during the UCLA/Colorado game.
Once we progressed past the first quarter the game actually settled into a pretty tight game.
Arizona State jumped out to a 13-0 lead and I was beginning to think that this game had the feel of a typical Thursday night game for the Pac-12. By that, I simply mean a game that had a highly ranked team that comes out flat and loses a game they shouldn’t. In other words, a Pac-12 suicide game.
Manny Wilkins was back at quarterback after being gone a few weeks and the offense did look better. However, the defensive line of Utah started to exert themselves on the Sun Devil offensive line and it wasn’t pretty. It was the exact definition of a matador offensive line. They just let the Utah defensive line through on a continuous basis.
It was ugly.
At the half it was 21-20 Utah. It was a game at that point.
Key phrase, at that point.
Once the second half started it became apparent that Utah was ready to put their own stamp on this game. The Utes began getting chunks of yards and the Utes started getting their stud running back Joe Williams involved. Williams ended up with 190 yards rushing.
Even with the Utes putting in a much more concerted effort the Utes were only up by two points entering the fourth quarter. The score was 28-26.
The defensive line for the Utes just didn’t allow the Sun Devils any breathing room and ended up getting 11 sacks. That stat tells you everything you need to know about the struggles of the Sun Devils.
“We just self-destructed.” Coach Graham said after the game.
Yes, you did coach. The final score from Tempe was a resounding 49-26 win for Utah.
The tone in his voice was of a coach that is frustrated. He has seen his team go from a record of 5-1 and now they are 5-5. With a date with the Washington Huskies next Saturday it doesn’t get any easier for the Sun Devils.
Let the swirl around your head for a while.