There are many ways to look at Arizona State's performance against Illinois yesterday. During the game, in which the Fighting Illini upset the Sun Devils 17-14, frustration would be the key word.
The team was undisciplined on both sides of the ball, and sacrificing 91 yards over eight penalties is no way to win a football game. With two interceptions and a fumble lost, the Devils truly let this road opportunity slip away.
On Friday, we discussed how Brock Osweiler had yet to play a truly great football game on the road. As of today, he still hasn't achieved that goal. Last night's performance was reminiscent of the win over Arizona last December, though the end result was markedly different. Osweiler only completed 25/45 passes for 256 yards -- a far cry from his incredible home performances against UCLA and Missouri.
"You can't have bad plays, you can't have turnovers. I had three of them alone," Osweiler said after the game. "The margin for error is tiny on the road." Once again, Osweiler learned that the hard way.
Something to consider for Sun Devils fans: the defense played very well against this mobile quarterback, Nathan Scheelhaase. In total, ASU gave up 105 yards on 45 carries, an average of 2.3 yards a carry that should impress the casual observer.
At 2-1, Arizona State is still 0-0 in conference play and can make a run at the Pac-12 South title if the conditions are right. With a big game against USC next on the schedule, the Sun Devils can either erase this game from their memories or fall into another disappointing season in maroon and gold.
Hopefully, coach Dennis Erickson can stop the undisciplined play his team exudes. The unfortunate news is that needless penalties and bonehead plays have been happening for years now, and there's no obvious end in sight.
For more on the Sun Devils, head to House Of Sparky.