Sun Devils roll over No. 20 Huskies 53-24
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP)
Arizona State's run defense was supposed to be weak, unable to stop much of anyone, much less the nation's leading rusher.
The Sun Devils took it as a challenge and, boy, were they up to it.
Clogging lanes and jumping into the backfield on seemingly every play, Arizona State swarmed Washington's Bishop Sankey while dominating both sides of the ball in a 53-24 victory over the 20th-ranked Huskies on Saturday.
''We were flying around,'' Arizona State defensive end Gannon Conway said. ''We had a good night, did what we were coached to do.''
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
The big knock on Arizona State's defense under coach Todd Graham was that it couldn't stop the run. The Sun Devils had trouble with it for most of the 2012 season and had similar issues in losses this season to power-running programs Stanford and Notre Dame.
Facing Sankey was supposed to be their most daunting task yet. The junior came in leading the nation at nearly 150 yards per game and appears to be well on his way to shattering nearly all of Washington's season rushing records.
The Sun Devils (5-2, 3-1 Pac-12) flipped the tables on Sankey with a dominating defensive performance, holding him to 22 yards on 13 carries.
And they didn't stop with him.
Arizona State held Washington to minus-5 yards on 25 carries - matching the second-fewest ASU has allowed since 1996 - and limited the nation's eighth-best offense to 212 total yards.
The Sun Devils also knocked around Huskies quarterback Keith Price all game and finished with seven sacks against a team that had allowed 12 in its first six games combined.
''That was embarrassing,'' Washington coach Steve Sarkisian said after the Huskies' eighth straight loss to Arizona State. ''We weren't good enough, we weren't well enough coached, we didn't perform well enough and we weren't physical enough, nearly physical enough, against a good football team.''
Arizona State's offense was just as overwhelming.
The Huskies (4-3, 1-3) were worried about Taylor Kelly's legs as much as his arm and Arizona State's quarterback still hurt them with both. He threw for 268 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 84 yards and two more scores.
Marion Grice did what he does best, scoring three touchdowns - that's 18 already this season - while running for 161 yards on 22 carries. The nation's leading scorer had two touchdown runs in the fourth quarter and had a spectacular TD catch that triggered Arizona State's 26-point second quarter.
Zane Gonzalez kicked four field goals, extending his streak to 11 straight, and Arizona State racked up 585 yards while scoring its most points ever against the Huskies.
''Man, what an impressive performance; it might be the most impressive performance that we've had as a team since I've been here,'' Graham said. ''We've got a heck of a football team and I love watching them. Man, it's exciting to watch.''
Not for the Huskies.
They appeared to be in good shape at the start, moving 60 yards in 11 plays for a 1-yard touchdown run by Sankey on its opening possession.
It was almost all Arizona State after that.
After settling for Gonzalez's first field goal in the first quarter, Grice opened the second with a highlight-reel touchdown, pulling down a one-handed, 15-yard pass while falling along the sideline. Gonzalez followed with two more field goals, Kelly scored on a 1-yard dive and the Sun Devils put together a quick-hitting drive in the final minute of the first half, capped by a 14-yard touchdown pass to Chris Coyle that put them up 29-7.
Good as Arizona State's offense was, its D was even better.
The Sun Devils clogged up all running lanes against Sankey, meeting him with multiple tacklers often before he even reached the line of scrimmage. He had 11 yards on nine carries at halftime.
Price didn't do much to offset the Huskies' ground struggles, getting several passes swatted down early and repeatedly overthrowing receivers while facing constant pressure.
Washington had 74 total yards on 36 plays and went three-and-out six times in the first half after doing it nine times in the first six games combined.
''We obviously had a great first drive,''' Sarkisian said. ''I felt we could've moved the ball better than we did today, that's for sure.''
The Huskies finally showed some life to start the second half with Kevin Smith catching a pass from Price over the middle and turning it into a 70-yard touchdown.
Turned out to be just a blip in the Sun Devils' runaway.
Arizona State answered with an 11-play, 77-yard scoring drive, capped by a spinning 1-yard touchdown run by Kelly. Grice followed with a 1-yard scoring run and another from 14 yards out to give Arizona State a 53-24 lead.
''We beat a really good football team,'' Graham said. ''We dominated a really good football team tonight.''
They sure did, on both sides of the ball.