In the relatively weaker division of the Pac-12, the Arizona State Sun Devils are getting closer to securing a place in the conference championship game after a big 55-21 over Washington State in Pullman, getting a very impressive performance from quarterback Taylor Kelly, throwing five touchdown passes, while running back Marion Grice was once again a delight in both the ground game and as a receiver.
Washington State might throw more than anyone else, but there’s not too much they do well. The Cougars once again abandoned the running game completely, as Connor Halliday completed 29-of-54 passes for 300 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. The ground game? Only 11 carries, only two total yards. With the amount of talent he has across the board right now, Mike Leach can’t do much with this team against borderline top 25 opponents, and obviously those better than that.
For the Sun Devils, it was a step closer towards playing for the Pac-12 title game. At 6-2 they clinched a spot in a bowl game for a third year in a row, but their ambitions are much higher than that, especially considering the rather weak division they’re in, with UCLA the only remaining threat. Arizona State are 4-1 in conference play, but still have to play in Utah and UCLA, while their remaining home games consist of Oregon State and Arizona.
Kelly did get intercepted once, but it was insignificant in the grand scheme of things. He completed 22-of-31 passes for 275 yards and 5 touchdown passes, while running for two more TDs on 13 carries for 66 yards. The Sun Devils gained 282 yards on 57 carries, in a game where Kelly had a hand in every single touchdown they scored. Sophomore running back D.J. Foster caught two touchdown passes with 7 receptions for 77 yards.
Marion Grice was efficient as always in everything he did: He led the team in rushing with 94 yards on 18 carries and caught two more passes for 31 yards, although he didn’t add to his tally of 18 touchdowns from scrimmage this season.
There was defense from Arizona State as well, despite the 557 yards of offense they put on the hosts. They forced three consecutive three-and-outs in the first quarter to open up their big lead, with Washington State having to punt the ball 8 times whenever they didn’t try and go for it on fourth down, which didn’t really work for them. They turned the ball over twice and converted only 6-of-16 on third down, falling to 4-5 this season.
Taylor is like having an offensive coordinator on the field. He does a tremendous job of audibling and dispersing the ball. Everything for us was to come out and start fast and kind of get the crowd out of the way. He is leading this team. I want to win the championship. It’s one more down and five more to go to be Pac-12 champs.