After jumping out to a 32-0 halftime lead, the Sun Devils cruised to their first win since Oct. 11, rolling over Washington State, 46-7 to earn bowl eligibility.
Here are some knee-jerk reactions from Arizona State's slaughtering of the Cougars:
- It was huge to see Taylor Kelly get back on track. After floating three incompletions on ASU's first two possessions Kelly was flawless, consistently taking whatever the Cougars would give him while not missing on a single one of his attempts. The presence of the run game helped (260 rushing yards) but it was clear Kelly (20-of-23, 246 yards, four touchdowns) took the recent criticism he's been receiving to heart. Now, it will just be a matter of translating Saturday's success to some place that's not Sun Devil Stadium (perhaps Tucson).
- The real story of the day though was the seniors. WR Rashad Ross (eight receptions, 79 receiving yards) caught two touchdowns, RB Cameron Marshall lead the team in rushing (16 carries, 75 yards), WR Jamal Miles totaled 78 all-purpose yards, S Keelan Johnson wrangled in two interceptions, CB Deveron Carr compiled two pass breakups and LB Brandon Magee seemed to be around the ball on almost every play (four tackles, one sack, one TFL, one pass breakup). But the real man of the hour was senior punter Josh Hubner. Hubner's golden boot averaged 40.8 yards a punt even with a 16-yard shank in the third quarter. He pinned three kicks in the 20 while avoiding a single touchback. I hope the scouts were watching because Hubner deserves to have a long pro career ahead of him.
- Arizona State's pass rush continued to swarm from every angle as six different players registered at least one sack. And with Devils defenders setting up camp in the Cougars' backfield, ASU held Washington State's run game to a laughably bad total of one rushing yard on 19 carries. One thing the box score won't tell you though is that Arizona State did look a little unprepared for WSU's shotgun draws at times. It may be a minor complaint but that's certainly something they'll want to shore up before Arizona's stud ball carrier Ka'Deem Carey makes them pay.
- My only other criticism would be when the Devils allowed Kristoff Williams' 54-yard touchdown in the final minute of the game on a wide receiver screen. ASU was eating those screens alive all game so to see him to take it the house was shocking to say the least. Sure, it didn't change anything but it would have been a nice cherry-on-top to see Arizona State close out the game and pitch a shutout.
- In conclusion, it has been confirmed that Washington State is an awful, awful football team but this was still a solid, complete team effort from the Devils. ASU's defense made both of the Cougars quarterbacks look silly and the offense was carefully deliberate with the ball as their only turnovers came late in the fourth with the backups on the field. Although some are not going to be able to get over the quality of opponent, this was exactly the type of win the Sun Devils needed to recapture some confidence before next Friday's Territorial Cup.