TEMPE, Ariz. — Payback.
The 26-10 win may not erase the memories of the past — four straight losses including the Pac-12 Championship Game one year ago — the victory over No. 23 Stanford did exorcise a demon or two for the 17th-ranked Arizona State Sun Devils.
ASU improved to 5-1 and 3-1 in the conference, staying a half-game behind USC, which sits atop the South Division.
While the 26 points was a season-low for the Sun Devils, it was a season-high allowed by Stanford this season, much to the delight of the 59,012 in attendance.
After a scoreless first quarter, ASU jumped on Stanford for a pair of touchdowns, including a Mike Bercovici 3-yard pass to Jaelen Strong that gave the Sun Devils a 14-0 halftime lead, the first time the Cardinal had been shut out in the first half since 2007, a span of 87 games.
Bercovici, making his third straight start, completed his first five passes and finished 23-of-33 for 245 yards, part of an offense that gained 356 yards, the second-most allowed by Stanford this season.
But it was the defense and special teams that shined on this night.
The defense, with nine new starters, limited Stanford to 288 total yards, while special teams — a unit that has underperformed — forced the only two turnovers of the game.
Redshirt senior safety Damarious Randall, the team’s leading tackler, recorded his first career sack in the first quarter and recovered a fumble on on a muffed punt in the second quarter. He was part of a Sun Devils defense that limited Stanford to four first downs and 69 total yards on 22 plays in the first half.
Redshirt senior running back Deantre Lewis got his first start of the season and in the first half, rushed for 49 yards, three more than his season-best total of 46 yards against UCLA. He carried the ball eight times, including the first three snaps of the game. Lewis finished with 47 yards.
Junior running back D.J. Foster’s 13-yard reception on the opening drive extended his streak of catching at least one pass to 33 consecutive games, or more accurately, every game of his Sun Devil career.
The Sun Devils converted 47 percent of their third downs (9-of-19) against a defense that was leading the Pac-12 in that category at 29.2 percent.
The Sun Devils held an opponent scoreless in the first quarter for the first time since Oct. 5, 2013 vs. Notre Dame.
The Sun Devils are 18-5 in their last 23 games, beating every Pac-12 team but Oregon.
Randall, as well as he played in the first half, appeared to hurt his left leg in the third quarter. He exited the game and headed into the locker room, while redshirt freshman James Johnson replaced him on the field. Randall returned two possessions later.
Sophomore Zane Gonzalez, who did not make the trip to USC because of “personal reasons” according to a school spokesperson, was wide left on a 48-yard field goal attempt in the first quarter; though he was good on his four other tries.
Bercovici was sacked four times, the most a Sun Devil quarterback has been dropped in a game this season, and for the season, ASU has allowed 14 sacks.
STAT(s) OF THE GAME
4: The number of times the Sun Devils defensed forced a three-and-out; they had done so just once in the past two games
114: The number of yards the Sun Devils gained on the ground against the nation’s No. 1 rushing defense (99.8)
HE SAID IT
“To turn the tables and to beat a team like that,” head coach Todd Graham said, “that one meant more to me, personally, than any win we’ve had. I’m really proud of our guys.”
While he did dress out and go through pregame warmups, starting quarterback Taylor Kelly did not play, missing his third straight game because of a right foot injury he suffered at Colorado on Sept. 13
Sun Devil four-year starter and two-time Super Bowl winner Grey Ruegamer was among the 2014 seven-person class inducted into the Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame at halftime
The Sun Devils faced an AP-ranked opponent for the third straight game; something that had happened on only two other occasions in school history, 2000 and 1994
Representatives from the Fiesta Bowl and Sun Bowl plus NFL scouts from the Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts and Tennessee Titans were in attendance
The Sun Devils head back out on the road.
ASU visits Washington (5-2, 1-2) on Saturday, Oct. 25. Kickoff is scheduled for 7:45 with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
Last season, the Sun Devils won their eighth straight over the Huskies, 53-24, scoring the most points ever against Washington. Previously, the high was 45 points which came in 1996.