With a matchup looming at No. 5 Utah, it would not have been a surprise if Arizona State had overlooked its Saturday night opponent.
Perhaps even expected, especially considering the Sun Devils entered the game 6-0 all-time against Colorado, with the past three meetings being won by an average of nearly 30 points.
That never happened.
While it wasn’t always pretty, ASU beat Colorado, 48-23, in front of 44,157 at Sun Devil Stadium.
Mike Bercovici threw five touchdowns, matching a career-high. Two went to Tim White, who set season-bests in catches (seven) and receiving yards (144) in the Sun Devils’ second straight victory.
Bercovici completed 20-of-31 passes for 260 yards, surpassing 3,000 yards for his career, before giving way to backup Manny Wilkins with 8:31 remaining in the game.
ASU (4-2, 2-1) scored on four of its first five possessions of the game to take a 24-7 lead, and then on its first four possessions to open the second half for a 38-10 advantage.
Colorado (3-3, 0-2) showed signs of life with a touchdown late in the third quarter and then another early in the fourth quarter, but the loss was its 11th straight in the Pac-12 and 13th in a row on the road in conference play.
The Sun Devils held the league’s third-best rushing attack to 49 yards on 28 attempts.
On the very first Sun Devils offensive snap of the game, D.J. Foster caught a six-yard pass to extend his school record with at least one reception to 46 straight games, or every game of his ASU career. It’s the longest active streak in the FBS. By the way, the Pac-12 record is 48 by Kareem Kelly of USC (1999-2002).
Good news for those who started Kody Kohl in their college football fantasy leagues this week. First, he picked up a Demario Richard fumble and returned it 28 yards for a touchdown; and then on the Sun Devils’ next possession, he caught a four-yard pass for a touchdown, his third receiving score of the season.
Quite the first half for White. He caught five passes for 95 yards, including a 38-yard touchdown, his second 38-yard reception of the half. The score was his team-high fourth receiving touchdown of the year. He also had a 19-yard and 30-yard kickoff return. By the way, White entered the game with 13 catches for 134 yards.
In what may have been his best statistical performance of the season, Antonio Longino recorded two-and-a-half sacks, including a third-quarter sack-forced fumble that was recovered by Viliami Latu. The Sun Devils capitalized five plays later with Devin Lucien catching a 10-yard touchdown, the first of his ASU career.
In what looked like a sure interception for Jordan Simone — and honestly, it should have been — ended up being a 42-yard catch for Sean Irwin because Simone waited for the ball instead of going after it. On the very next play, Phillip Lindsay scored on a 16-yard run cutting the Sun Devil lead in half, 14-7, at the 7:12 mark in the second quarter.
Ball security is what is preached, yet the Sun Devils are still looking for their first turnover-free game of the season. For the third straight game, Bercovici was picked off. The second quarter interception was his fourth of the season. Bercovici also fumbled, though he recovered. It was the 17th fumble by ASU this season.
Sometimes it’s not how many penalites a team incurs, but when. The Sun Devils were penalized just twice in the first half — D.J. Calhoun roughing the quarterback on 3rd and 13 and Lloyd Carrington offsides — but both came on Colorado’s final drive, helping the Buffaloes kick a 27-yard field goal to make it 24-10 ASU at halftime.
Colorado didn’t convert many third downs (6-of-16), but on 3rd and 3 at its own 32 in the third quarter, Sefo Liufau found an open Devin Ross streaking down the right sideline and outraced Kareem Orr for a 68-yard touchdown, one of three passing plays of 40 or more yards in the game and the eighth allowed by the Sun Devils.
STAT OF THE GAME
5: The number of passing touchdowns by Bercovici, tying his career-high; and in the process became just the third Sun Devil quarterback to pass for five or more scores in a game multiple times, joining Andrew Walter and Taylor Kelly.
HE SAID IT
“I thought we did a nice job of disrupting him and hitting him. We did a good job there,” head coach Todd Graham said, referring to the eight quarterback sacks of Liufau. “I thought we controlled the line of scrimmage.”
ASU improved to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in Pac-12 play
28-1 when leading at halftime under Graham
27-6 when scoring first under Graham
21-9 in conference games since 2012
19-5 all-time at Sun Devil Stadium under Graham
15-2 in conference games following its first Pac-12 loss in the past two seasons
Richard’s three-yard second quarter run pushed him past 1,000 rushing yards in his career
Salamo Fiso’s second-quarter tackle for a loss was the 200th tackle of his career
Zane Gonzalez moved into fifth place on ASU’s all-time scoring list passing Nolan Jones (296)
Starting safety Armand Perry missed his fourth straight game due to a left ankle injury he suffered against Cal Poly
Former Sun Devils and current Houston Texans receiver Jaelen Strong was among those in attendance
Scouts from five NFL teams — Cardinals, Dolphins, Jets, Steelers and Titans — were expected to be in attendance
It’s back on the road for the Sun Devils.
ASU travels to Utah (5-0, 2-0) to play the Utes on Saturday, Oct. 17. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:15 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The Sun Devils have won 11 straight matchups, including their last visit to Rice-Eccles Stadium, a 20-19 victory in 2013.
The two South Division rivals have played each of the past four seasons, or ever since Utah joined the conference in 2011.
Overall, ASU holds a 20-6 advantage — 5-3 on the road — in a series that dates back to 1961.
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