After forcing but a single turnover in their first two games, Arizona States injury-depleted defense has more than made up for their slow start.
They forced Utah into five turnovers during Saturday's 35-14 victory, their second straight game with five takeaways. In their last four games, the Sun Devil defense has 17 takeaways.
Much like their last road game against Illinois, the Sun Devils struggled early, fell behind 7-0 and then rallied to force a stalemate that lasted most of the first half. Part of that struggle included Sun Devil Alden Darby's third interception in the last two games on the first play of the second quarter.
However, Utah looked to break that monotony late in the half as they had the ball at the ASU 16 yard line. Utah's John Hays, making his first career start at the FBS level, lofted a pass into the end zone that was intercepted by safety Eddie Elder to thwart the Utes' threat. Elder, who dropped three easy interceptions a week ago, secured a halftime lead for the Devils.
Echoing the events of the USC game, Utah stormed back on the opening drive of the second half to take a lead. After they appeared stopped, the Utes faked a punt then used a flea-flicker to get inside the ASU five yard line, where they quickly scored the go ahead touchdown.
An ASU field goal on the ensuing possession cut the lead to 14-13, but the defense was just about to unleash their wrath on Utah.
On the first play of Utah's next possession, linebacker Shelly Lyons stripped running back John White IV, ASU recovered and soon Brock Osweiler found Mike Willie for a 14-yard touchdown to retake the lead.
The next Utah drive met the same fate. Hays' throw on the first play was picked off by safety Clint Floyd, and after a lumbering 25-yard run by Osweiler, Cameron Marshall punched in an uncontested touchdown run for pad the Devils' lead to 28-14.
The turnover well was next yet dry, as the next Utah drive ended with another fumble, this time recovered by Lyons.
As good teams do, the Sun Devils made their opponents pay for their ball control sins.
The ensuing 10-play drive was capped with another Osweiler to Willie connection, this time from 12-yards to extend the score to the eventual final score of 35-14.
ASU (5-1, 3-0 in the Pac-12) now travels for the toughest game of the season at Autzen Stadium to face the Oregon Ducks (4-1, 2-0) in a possible conference title game preview. With the Ducks' star running back LaMichael James out for the game, another multi-turnover effort from the ASU defense could key another huge road win.