Not even a healthy Taylor Kelly could’ve saved the Sun Devils on this night.
Thanks to four takeaways and one big play after another, often aided by poor tackling, 11th-ranked UCLA handed No. 15 ASU (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) its worst defeat in the Todd Graham era, 62-27 in front of an announced crowd of 60,876 on Thursday.
The 62 points were the most ASU has ever allowed at Sun Devil Stadium.
A question mark before the game because of an injury to his left non-throwing elbow, former Chandler High School standout Brett Hundley passed for 355 yards and four touchdowns for UCLA, including a pair of 80-yard throws. He also rushed for 72 yards and a touchdown.
For the game, UCLA (4-0, 1-0) recorded five scoring plays of 80 yards or more.
With Mike Bercovici making his first college start due to a right foot injury to Kelly — who is still in an boot and on crutches — the Sun Devils jumped in front 17-6 in the second quarter.
But then, the wheels fell off as UCLA scored the final 21 points of the second quarter for a 27-17 halftime lead.
The Bruins extended their advantage to 34-17 on Jordan Payton’s 80-yard reception on the first play of the third quarter.
In the loss, Bercovici established school marks for completions (42) and attempts (68) on his way to a 488-yard, three-touchdown performance. But he turned the ball over three times — two interceptions and a fumble — and UCLA scored 17 points off of ASU’s turnovers.
• For the third straight game, the Sun Devils scored on their opening drive, but unlike the previous two times, they were limited to a field goal — a career-long 49-yarder from Zane Gonzalez, which bested his prior high of 44 yards.
• After starting the game 2-of-6, Bercovici found his rhythm and completed four straight passes, the last of which went five yards to tight end Kody Kohl for a first-quarter score — the first TD catch of Kohl’s career.
• Wide receiver Jaelen Strong had 146 receiving yards. It was his second 100-yard game of the season and the ninth of his career, the third-most in ASU history.
• It was more rude than bad, but somebody — presumably from the opposition — scratched “UCLA” into ASU’s black pitchfork at midfield about two hours before kickoff. The letters were soon spray-painted over, and stadium security was positioned around the logo.
• One game after allowing 545 yards at Colorado, the Sun Devils’ defense surrendered 310 yards in the first half to the Bruins, including 217 yards in the second quarter alone, in which UCLA had three plays of more than 20 yards.
• After only one combined turnover in their first three games, the Sun Devils committed three in the first half. In the first quarter, D.J. Foster (held to 30 yards on nine carries) coughed up the football for the team’s second lost fumble of the season. In the second quarter, Anthony Jefferson and Ishmael Adams each recorded interceptions, the second of which was returned 95 yards by Adams for a touchdown.
STAT OF THE GAME
296: The total number of yards gained by Adams, who had a 95-yard pick-six and a 100-yard kickoff return
HE SAID IT
“It was embarrassing. We did a poor job of preparing them, obviously. I thought tackling was atrocious. It’s unacceptable for our standards. We didn’t represent Sun Devil nation. We’ve got to go to work and get it corrected.” -ASU head coach Todd Graham
• The game was the first regular-season matchup between ranked teams at Sun Devil Stadium since 2007, when No. 11 USC beat No. 7 ASU 44-24 on Nov. 22.
• Scouts from 14 NFL teams were in attendance Thursday.
• Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott was in attendance, as were former Sun Devils Vontaze Burfict, Marion Grice, Brock Osweiler, Robert Nelson and Gerell Robinson.
• Nearly 200 students, including sophomore receiver Cameron Smith, who are enrolled in Barrett, The Honors College at ASU, were recognized pregame.
• ASU center Nick Kelly had his helmet knocked off twice in the first quarter, which forced him to the sideline for the following play. He was replaced by Stephon McCray.
• The Sun Devils finally returned a kickoff for the first time this season, as Kalen Ballage returned a first-half kick for 15 yards.
• The Sun Devils set an all-time student attendance record set (12,966).
The Sun Devils head back out on the road to visit USC (2-1, 1-0) on Saturday, Oct. 4. Kickoff is scheduled for either 4:30 or 7:30 p.m., depending upon television coverage, with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Last season, the Sun Devils beat USC 62-41 in Tempe, matching the second-most points scored in a Pac-10/12 game in school history. ASU has not beaten USC in consecutive seasons since 1996-97.