PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — Taylor Kelly passed
for 225 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 99 yards and another
score, and No. 19 Arizona State hung on in the fourth quarter to clinch
its first Pac-12 South title with a 38-33 victory over No. 14 UCLA on
Marion Grice had 95 yards rushing and 72
yards receiving for the surging Sun Devils (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12), who will
face Stanford in the league title game in two weeks. If Arizona State
beats Arizona in the Territorial Cup game next week, the Sun Devils will
host the Cardinal.
Jaelen Strong had six catches for 91
yards and a score, but Arizona State blew most of a 22-point halftime
lead over the Bruins (8-3, 5-3) and scored just three points in the
second half. The Sun Devils’ defense held UCLA scoreless on its final
two drives to wrap up their sixth consecutive victory.
Brett Hundley passed for 253 yards and
two touchdowns for UCLA, which hadn’t lost at home this season. Myles
Jack rushed for 86 yards and a touchdown while the freshman linebacker
played almost exclusively on offense.
UCLA trailed 38-27 entering the fourth
quarter, but Shaq Evans caught a 27-yard TD pass with 11:25 to play. The
Bruins drove to the Arizona State 6 in the waning minutes, but Chris
Young sacked Hundley for a 13-yard loss before Ka’imi Fairbairn missed a
37-yard field goal attempt.
UCLA got the ball back at its 35 with
3:21 to play. Evans crossed midfield with a catch on fourth-and-5, but
the penalty-prone Bruins committed three fouls on the next two snaps,
and Hundley’s fourth-down pass to Jordan Payton fell well short of a
In the schools’ first meeting as two
ranked teams since 1986, Arizona State earned the right to play for its
first New Year’s Day trip to the Rose Bowl in 17 years by dominating the
Bruins for a half on that same Pasadena turf.
The Sun Devils lost 42-28 to Stanford on
Sept. 21, but they’ve met every challenge down the stretch in coach
Todd Graham’s second season in Tempe, culminating in this resilient win
over the Pac-12 South’s champion in each of the last two seasons.
Arizona State’s victory capped a huge
football Saturday for the Grand Canyon State after Arizona’s stunning
blowout of No. 5 Oregon — and it means next week’s local derby will be
for more than bragging rights.
Carl Bradford returned an interception
18 yards for an early score by Arizona State, which racked up 357 yards
while taking a 35-13 lead in a dynamic first half.
UCLA had to win its regular-season home
finale to have any shot at returning to Pasadena on New Year’s Day, but
the Bruins couldn’t overcome their dismal start despite repeatedly
getting outstanding field position from Ishmael Adams, who had 234 total
yards in kick returns.
Arizona State opened with a flourish,
making a 76-yard drive just 2 minutes from the opening kickoff capped by
Kelly’s 3-yard TD run. UCLA promptly answered with Adams’ first long
kick return and a 42-yard TD pass to Devin Lucien on Hundley’s first
But the Sun Devils reeled off four
touchdowns in the last 16 minutes of the first half, including TD runs
by D.J. Foster and Michael Eubank. Bradford made Arizona State’s biggest
defensive play on the first snap of the second quarter, stepping in
front of a short swing pass by Hundley and returning it for a score.
UCLA struggled offensively despite its
good field position, with Hundley looking skittish in the pocket and an
offensive line with three freshman starters laboring against Arizona
State’s veteran defense.
Arizona State drove 62 yards in just 35
seconds during the final minute of the half, with Strong making a
19-yard TD grab with 5 seconds to play for a 22-point lead. The Bruins
and their fans appeared stunned, while the Sun Devils fairly floated off
But the Bruins gathered themselves at
halftime and made a lengthy drive capped by Jack’s TD to open the second
half. Arizona State then botched a long snap on a punt, and Paul
Perkins completed a 15-yard drive with a 1-yard score, abruptly trimming
the deficit to 35-27.
Arizona State kicked a short field goal
late in the third, but UCLA converted on fourth-and-2 early in the
fourth quarter with a pass to freshman defensive lineman Eddie
Vanderdoes before Evans’ catch-and-run for a score. Hundley’s 2-point
conversion pass was tipped and intercepted.