ASU Vs. Boise State: Erickson Era Ends With 56-24 Defeat

The ASU Sun Devils ended their disappointing season with an embarrassing loss the Boise State Bronco. Dennis Erickson ended his career with a 31-31 record at Arizona State.

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Boise State vs. ASU: First Quarter Recap, Broncos Lead 14-0

The stage was set for an emotional victory on the Arizona State Sun Devils sideline. Recently fired head coach Dennis Erickson, with tears in his eyes, spoke on national television about his time in Tempe while the team huddled together and jumped with great anticipation of the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. 

Then, Alex Garoutte kicked the ball to Doug Martin, and within 15 seconds everything changed. Martin ran the ball all the way back from inside his own endzone to give the Broncos an immediate 7-0 lead over ASU.

The Sun Devils were offensively challenged from the onset, struggling to move the chains in an effective manner. Cameron Marshall was stifled on his first three rushing attempts, picking up only four yards. Brock Osweiler's first three passes only went for a total of 15 yards, and the Devils began the game with a 1-for-3 third down conversion rate. 

After stopping the Broncos one time, Kellen Moore led his offense down the field quickly, confusing ASU with a five-wide formation and locating a wide-open Tyler Shoemaker on the right side of the endzone to give Boise State a 14-0 lead.

The first quarter showed how big the chasm is between the Boise State program and ASU. The Broncos have a stable coach, an experienced core of responsible seniors which lends itself to focused leadership.

The Sun Devils have turmoil in the coaching ranks, being coached by several staff members who are already fired or signed up to coach at other programs next season. One of their seniors has been benched for his bad attitude (Vontaze Burfict) and can't seem to play defense.

ASU committed a ridiculous amount of penalties on their next drive (3 for 19 yards) which pinned them back deep in their own end. Once again, they were forced to punt, which allowed Boise to start a drive on ASU's 48-yard line. Fortunately, a Moore pass bounced off Shoemaker's hands and was intercepted by Clint Floyd, giving the Sun Devils a much-needed boost.

After moving the ball nicely for several plays, the Devils committed another big mistake -- a third-down snap from Garth Gerhart whizzed by Osweiler which effectively ruined any shot at scoring. After the loss of yardage, ASU was forced to punt.

The first quarter ended with Boise State moving the ball to the BSU 29-yard line, leading 14-0. The Broncos must feel pretty confident after such a lackadaisical display by the Sun Devils.

To join the conversation with ASU fans, head over to House Of Sparky immediately.

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2011 Vegas Bowl: ASU Playing For Pride, Face Uphill Battle Vs. Boise State

The 2011 Arizona State University football team will finish its rocky and tumultuous season on Thursday night when they face the 11-1 Boise State Broncos in the 2011 MAACO Vegas Bowl. The Sun Devils lost their final four games to go from BCS contention to this trip to Las Vegas. The Broncos were one missed field goal away from an undefeated season and feel disrespected by not getting invited to a more prestigious bowl game. 

Both of these teams have something to prove, but for good reason it's Boise State that enters the game as a 14-point favorite. They have one of the top offenses in the country led by outstanding quarterback Kellen Moore who put up 43 points per game.

The ASU defense carries most of the blame for the late season collapse. Lacking leadership and suffering from injuries in the secondary they repeatedly gave up big plays at the wrong time. Against the Broncos, the Sun Devil defense will have to play with a lot more pride to keep this game close.

The 2011 Vegas Bowl also marks the final opportunity for Dennis Erickson to coach his team and could be his final game of his long career. Erickson was replaced after the season by Todd Graham but has remained through this final game.

Erickson might have a lot of faults, but he earned the respect and love from his players who are saying the right things:

Erickson era nears end as football faces Boise State | ASU News | The State Press | Arizona State University
Junior quarterback Brock Osweiler: "Coach Erickson has meant everything to me. He’s the man that brought me to ASU. Obviously I want to send him out on a winning note. He deserves that. Coach Erickson has been a father figure so I owe it to him. All the things he’s given to us as players, we understand what’s at stake."

Of course, it's not all positive as Erickson was forced to suspend DE Junior Onyeali for a public outburst aimed directly at his outgoing coach. The Sun Devils will also be without dangerous WR/KR Jamal Miles due to "personal reasons".  

SB Nation's Bill Connelly has a detailed break down of the game with examination of both teams. Here's his conclusion:

Boise State Vs. Arizona State, Las Vegas Bowl 2011: Stable Vs. Unpredictable - SBNation.com
Boise State by 16.7: Boise State holds advantages in all three phases of this game (including, yes, special teams, which cost the Broncos a shot at the national title), and if they show up ready to impress in the final game for one of the nation's most accomplished senior classes, they should not struggle for too long.

They are disciplined in all the ways that Arizona State is not. But the Sun Devils are so deliciously unpredictable and unstable that you never feel confident picking for or against them. Whether a tight game or a blowout, this one should be entertaining.

For more on the Vegas Bowl, visit House of Sparky who posted a detailed podcast breaking down the game as we..

For all the latest AZ sports news, follow us on Twitter @SBNArizona and "Like" us on Facebook. 

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Outgoing Erickson Hoping For 'Business As Usual' As Team Prepares For MAACO Las Vegas Bowl

TEMPE -- Twelves days from Saturday, Arizona State faces one of the top college football programs in the nation, Boise State, in the 2011 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl. The Sun Devils opened practice for the bowl game Saturday amid the local buzz about star linebacker Vontaze Burfict, outgoing coach Dennis Erickson on the sidelines for his last game and the search for a new head coach.

School officials requested media members refrain from asking Erickson, who was made available after practice, about his future or thoughts on his job and the situation at ASU. But that didn't deter questions to players about Erickson nor about the process of finding a new leader for the program.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler said he was among nine junior-class players asked to meet with Lisa Love, ASU vice president for university athletics, recently. He was asked why he thought current offensive coordinator Noel Mazzone would be a good head coach for ASU.

"Obviously I would like Coach Mazzone to stay here. I'm the first one to admit that I would not be where I'm at today without him," Osweiler said, then called Mazzone a "father figure."

Osweiler added that all of the talk about who will be the new coach has weighed on him a little, but he's trying to stay out of the hiring process and expressed faith in ASU for picking the right candidate.

"I'm going to trust that that's the best coach for the job. I'm going to believe in the coach. So I'm trying to stay out of it and let the professionals do their job," he said.

Erickson was asked about the enigmatic Burfict, whose lasting legacy in Tempe might be the image of him standing on the sideline with helmet in hand late in the season finale at home against Cal, yanked from the game after costly personal foul penalties he incurred. Burfict practiced Saturday but not with the first-team defense.

"There's no plan for anything until we go through practice," Erickson said, not committing to giving Burfict  -- once regarded as one of the top defensive players in America -- back his starting job. 

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Burfict will make the trip to Vegas with the team, Erickson said, refuting a report that he refused to go back into the Cal game.

"It's amazing the rumors that are created in your business," Erickson said before labeling Burfict's 2011 season "pretty average. He just didn't play like he did the year before."

"He's here. We'll see how he practices. If he practices hard, then he'll play."

Erickson then turned the focus to the team and the bowl game. 

"It's an opportunity for them to play one of the best teams in the country and finish if off right. Go out and compete and see what we're all about," Erickson said. "We want to finish off the season right and play with pride... We'll prepare the same way that we always have, and we will. It's business as usual but obviously it's the last game of the season, it's a little different situation."

Lost in all of the news of the day was the fact that the Devils had a spirited practice that saw recovering defensive back Omar Bolden take part in individual drills wearing a brace over his left knee, and some good action. Erickson said Bolden should be ready for Pro Day next spring, when NFL scouts come to campus to see what outgoing players have pro potential.

"It was good to be back," Osweiler said. "Great energy, great enthusiasm... These two weeks that we had off were very refreshing."

Osweiler and senior defensive tackle Bo Moos expressed a desire to win the game for Erickson and for themselves and the team.

"I expect us to play with that passion and I expect us to be hungry and ready for a win," Moos said. "Just wiping the slate clean... we're just coming together and trying to get this one for Coach Erickson."

The Devils (6-6) are two-touchdown underdogs to the BCS No. 7-ranked Broncos (11-1) and golden-armed QB Kellen Moore, and are coming off a run of poor play to end the regular season.

"That's fine. There was a lot of games this year where no one gave us a chance," Osweiler said. "But the beauty of football is they put their shoes on the same way we do and we're going to go out there and lay everything on the line."

Note: DE Junior Onyeali was not at practice. He was attending a funeral for a family member.

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2011 Bowl Matchups: Arizona State To Take On Boise State In 20th Annual Maaco Bowl Las Vegas

Bowl matchups are set in the wake of the 2011 college football regular season and the Arizona St. Sun Devils have accepted a bid to play in the 20th Annual Maaco Bowl Las Vegas against the Boise St. Broncos. The Sun Devils are 12-10-1 all-time in bowl games and will look to snap a two-game postseason skid against the Broncos in roughly three weeks.

The Sun Devils will make their first bowl appearance since 2007, when the team played in the Holiday Bowl. Of course, ASU had much higher aspirations after beginning the season on a 6-2 run. Four straight losses, however, leave the Sun Devils in the Maaco Bowl.

Arizona State still has a chance to close out the 2011 season with a strong statement against a very good Broncos team. Boise State went 11-1 this season, with their lone loss coming against the TCU Horned Frogs 36-35 on a late two-point conversion.

Head coach Dennis Erickson, who will be coaching his last game as ASU's head coach, had this to say about the matchup:

"The goal at the beginning of the year for any college football team is to play in a bowl game. I am so proud of our players and my coaching staff. We are grateful to the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas and the city of Las Vegas for giving us this opportunity. We are honored to be a part of it. We are playing one of the nation's top teams in Boise State as well."

The game will be played at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas on Dec. 22nd, beginning at 6:00 MST time. It will be covered by ESPN and ESPN3.

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2011 Bowl Matchups: Arizona State's Uneven Season Ends With Bowl Game

The Arizona State Sun Devils had a season of ups and downs, but will cap off the 2011 season with a bowl game appearance.

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