ASU vs. Colorado: Sun Devils Rock Buffaloes 54-13 in Tempe


Editor’s Note: The following article was provided by guest columnist Wes Adamson. A student at Full Sail University studying Sports Media, Wes is an avid Arizona State fan and college sports enthusiast.

Well, so much for the thought of Colorado being a potential “trap game” for Arizona State. A week after losing a heartbreaker to Notre Dame in Dallas and a week before their homecoming game against the Washington Huskies, the Sun Devils took out their frustration on the lowly Buffaloes Saturday night in Tempe, 54-13.

From the start, ASU executed its game plan with perfection, beginning with the opening drive when QB Taylor Kelly zipped a 69-yard touchdown pass to Jaelen Strong. Things couldn’t have developed in a worse way for Colorado and the rest of the night was more of the same, handing ASU a much-needed win in an uncompetitive fashion.

Arizona State came into Saturday’s meeting needing to address some key areas that led to narrow losses against Notre Dame and Stanford. One of the unexpected sore spots this year has been the Sun Devils’ run defense, an area they dominated last year. Through last week, ASU had given up 182 rushing yards per game. Saturday night, Colorado was held to 109 yards rushing and had difficulty stopping ASU from attacking quarterback Connor Wood, who was pulled in the first half after going 0-4 with one interception and two sacks.

Arizona State was also looking to reignite its normally blazing running game after being held to 65 net yards rushing by Notre Dame and a measly 50 by Stanford. Against CU, the Devils racked up 266 yards on 57 rushes.

Saturday evening’s contest seemed like a flashback to 2012 when ASU was one of the least penalized teams in the conference and kept turnovers to a minimum. After leading the Pac-12 with just 56 penalties last year, the Sun Devils have struggled so far this year — already drawing 21 flags. ASU had three penalties compared to eight for Colorado and won the turnover differential 4:0.

One part of Arizona State’s game that has kept plugging along is the scoring production of “Mr. Touchdown,” Marion Grice. Through last week, Grice had accounted for 13 total touchdowns and added two more Saturday as he helped the Sun Devils roll to a 25-0 first quarter lead.

Kelly was as dialed in as ever and orchestrated drive after drive en route to a 47-6 halftime lead. The junior quarterback finished with another impressive stat line of 9-of-20 for 233 yards and two touchdowns with no interceptions. ASU fans gritted their teeth a bit as they watched their field general take a rough hit while diving to score after a 17 yard scamper before the half.

The consistent bright spot this year, WR Jaelen Strong, continued his torrid pace while catching another three balls for 109 yards and one touchdown.

Special teams didn’t disappoint either as Zane Gonzalez kicked through all three of his field goal attempts.

Although the pass rush once again failed to deliver more than one sack, the defense as a whole stepped up its game to a new level, forcing the Buffaloes into three interceptions, one safety and one lost fumble.

Arizona State hopes to ride the momentum of a stellar week into another big win next Saturday afternoon against a Washington team desperate to end its current losing streak.