ASU receiver Gerell Robinson is clearly dejected seconds after the Sun Devils' 31-27 loss to the Arizona Wildcats (Photo: Fanster.com)
Just three weeks ago after a homecoming romp over the hapless Buffaloes of Colorado, the Arizona State Sun Devils had a firm grip on the Pac-12 South division. Fast forward over two hideous losses on the road to UCLA and Washington State and ASU now must face their arch rival, the University of Arizona Wildcats. I’m not going to say this game has become anticlimactic this year, but for this reporter, the thrill of this ASU UofA game has been greatly diminished. A mid season firing of Mike Stoops, losers of eight out of their last nine and nothing to lose, Arizona should scare the ‘be-jesus’ out of ASU. In order to get control of the south division again, the Sun Devils must win out and have USC knock off the Bruins next week. But first. the Wildcats.
No surprise to anyone after the coin toss, Arizona elected to receive and sink it’s teeth into the ASU defense that gave up 583 total yards to Washington State. A drive loaded with swing passes and mis-directional plays the Wildcats marched down field into the ASU red zone. On what should have been a hold on third and goal from the six, ASU committed one its infamous 3rd down penalties to give the Wildcats first and goal from the two. Two plays later Keola Antolin punched the ball in for an early Wildcat 7-0 lead. Positive note? ASU is 2-1 when the opponent scores first.
ASU’s first possession featured eight plays and ending in an interception that was returned to the ASU 49 yard line. Auspicious start as the Wildcats then took the ball 49 yards on five plays to take a 14-0 lead on a Foles to Carey six yard touchdown completion.
On the ensuing kick-off Jamal Miles fumbled on the return but he recovered his own fumble as a turnover at that point could have spelled doom for the Sun Devils. Osweiler found his stride as he led the Devils on a 12 play 74 yard drive capped off with a two yard Cameron Marshall scamper. UofA 14- ASU 7. The Wildcats drove back down the field on their next possession but failed to score after a Bonano 49 yard field goal attempt boinked off the left upright. An eight play 68 yard drive drive featuring an 11 yard touchdown catch by senior Gerrell Robinson brought ASU back to a 14-14 tie. After another Arizona field goal miss and a quick :42 second yard ASU drive ending with another Marshall touchdown run put the Devils up 21-14 in a matter of minutes. Arizona added a field goal to send it to halftime ASU 21-17.
The 3rd quarter featured four drives by both schools but only created a 22 yard field goal by ASU. Early in the fourth quarter another ASU drive stalled in the red zone but produced yet another Alex Garoutte field goal. ASU 27-Arizona 17. The next three drives would basically sum up the last three games for ASU. A penalty and more missed tackles than this reporter could count allowed the Wildcats to move 94 yards for a Gino Crump 33 yard touchdown catch. ASU 27-Arizona 24. ASU’s next possession stalled on the Arizona 39 and instead of punting ASU went for it and failed. 2:57 minutes later and another round of the worst tackling in college football history Nick Foles hit Juron Criner for the go ahead touchdown. Arizona 31 ASU 27. On the ensuing drive Osweiler led his Devils down to the Wildcat 23 yard line before throwing an interception. ASU’s defense would hold Arizona and give the ball back to their offense with 1:13. A gallant effort, a little help from the replay booth and a great run by Marshall put ASU down to the Wildcat 15. But time ran out on the Devils as an incomplete pass to Mike Willie fell into the end zone ended the game.
A couple observations from this gut wrenching and demoralizing defeat. And no, they don’t involve penalties, the kicking game or missed tackles. Osweiler was off tonight. Under thrown passes, over thrown passes and throws with no zip. Plus the inability to get the ball in the end zone while in the red zone. But lest us not forget, this is his first year of starting for the Sun Devils. But to Sun Devil fans, this game should have come as no surprise after UCLA and Washington State. A team that was #18 in the country and 6-2 with a cupcake second half schedule, read too many clippings about themselves and forgot you still had to play football. But all is not lost! A three team parlay next weekend will still get ASU into the Pac-12 championship! Right…..
And a note to Arizona fans, I believe they sell football jerseys in Tucson? But you would never know it because all I saw throughout the stadium was UofA basketball jerseys. Now go back to Tucson.
ASU vs UofA by sparkyfan