It had never happened, ever.
But as they say, there’s a first time for everything; and for Colorado, their first time beating Arizona State occurred on Saturday in rather convincing fashion, 40-16.
The unlikely matchup for a share of first place in the Pac-12 South produced an unlikely result.
The Buffaloes stampeded the Sun Devils, gaining 315 of their 580 total yards on the ground.
Phillip Lindsey rushed for 219 yards and three touchdowns, helping Colorado (5-2, 3-1) to its first win in eight tries against ASU (5-2, 2-2).
Lindsey averaged 8.4 yards on 26 attempts.
All five of Colorado’s touchdowns came via the run.
Despite an ankle injury that sidelined him last week, Manny Wilkins, still at less than 100 percent, started and completed 13-of-35 pass attempts for 149 yards and a touchdown. He was also intercepted.
ASU’s ground game once again failed to produce. The Sun Devils totaled 50 yards on 28 carries.
Special teams play helped set up the Sun Devils’ one and only first-half touchdown. Koron Crump recorded his second fumble recovery of the season, falling on the loose football after Colorado muffed a punt in the first quarter. Five plays later, Wilkins lofted a five-yard touchdown pass to Kody Kohl. It was Kohl’s first score and only his fifth catch of the year, but it pulled ASU even with the home team, 7-7, at the 2:48 mark.
There may be no better placekicker-punter combination in the country than Zane Gonzalez and Matt Haack. First, Gonzalez made his fourth 50-plus yard field goal of the season, connecting on a 51-yarder in the second quarter that tied the score at 10 at the 10:57 mark of the second quarter. Then on the Sun Devils’ final play of the first half Haack boomed a 76-yard punt, a career-long and the sixth-longest in school history.
Not done yet, Gonzalez added another long field goal in the third quarter. This one split the uprights from exactly 50 yards away to pull ASU to within 30-13 at the 10:50 mark. Twice now this season, Gonzalez has kicked a pair of 50+ yard field goals in a single game, the only kicker to claim that distinction in school history. Keep in mind, Gonzalez had no field goal kicks over 50 yards prior to this season, and now he has five.
Actually, make it six. That’s right, a sixth 50-plus yard field goal by Gonzalez as he nailed a school-record 59-yarder to convert yet another Colorado muffed punt into points, 33-16 at the 8:54 mark of the fourth quarter. Gonzalez now holds the FBS record for most career points by a kicker with 468. He also tied the FBS record for most 50-plus yard field goals in a single game with three (which is tied with five other players).
Entering the day, no team in the conference had defended the run better than the Sun Devils allowing 89.3 yards per game, which ranked fifth-best in the nation. Yet, in the first quarter alone, Colorado rushed for 89 yards, including a 16-yard touchdown run by Kyle Evans for the first score of the game. The Buffaloes added two more rushing touchdowns in the second quarter and went into the locker room at halftime with 133 of their 305 total yards coming on the ground.
Poor tackling, blown assignments, you name it and the Sun Devil defense experienced it in the first half, as they have all season long. The biggest play they allowed was a 66-yard catch and run by Bryce Bobo, which helped set up Colorado’s second touchdown that increased its lead to 17-10 at the 9:11 mark of the second quarter. Bobo, a 6-2, 190-pound junior, was wide open on the play, by the way. He had five receptions for a career-high 105 yards at halftime.
So much for halftime adjustments. Because if there were any, they failed to make an appearance on the game’s first play to begin the second half. Phillip Lindsay took the handoff and ran off-tackle left, finding a huge hole in which to run through; and he never stopped running until he reached the end zone. It was a 75-yard run to increase the Colorado lead to 30-10 at the 14:48 mark of the third quarter. It was also the eighth 60+ yard play from scrimmage ASU has allowed.
At one point in the game, the Sun Devils went five straight possessions between first downs. Early in the second quarter, Demario Richard gained 37 rushing yards out of the “Sparky” formation. The offense then was unable to move the chains again until midway through the third quarter, when Wilkins threw a 44-yard pass to Tim White. Unfortunately, that drive stalled three plays later. Wilkins was picked off by Afolabi Laguda, the fifth interception thrown on the season.
STAT OF THE GAME
315: The number of rushing yards by Colorado against a defense that had held UCLA to minus-one yard rushing a week earlier.
HE SAID IT
“We prepared for the tempo, but they just gave us an old-fashioned butt-whooping,” head coach Todd Graham said. “We just did a poor job. Obviously, the difference was they just ran the ball. That’s the first team that’s ran the ball right at us and had success. We just did a poor job. We just absolutely got whipped up front on both sides of the football and that was the story.”
Redshirt-sophomore safety Armand Perry left the game in the third quarter and did not return due to an apparent right foot injury; he was replaced by junior Chad Adams.
With his second-quarter appearance as a wide receiver, Jack Smith, out of Phoenix Mountain Pointe High School, became ASU’s sixth true freshman to play this season.
With his first-quarter PAT, Gonzalez has now scored a point in all 46 games he has played as a Sun Devil, setting the new ASU record, breaking a tie with Luis Zendejas.
ASU had only two gameday captains—Wilkins and Gonzalez—meet at midfield for the pregame coin toss, which Colorado won and deferred its option to the second half.
It’s the penultimate home game.
The Sun Devils host Washington State on Saturday, Oct. 22. Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning two hours earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
ASU has won the last six matchups at Sun Devil Stadium, dropping at least 40 points in each of the previous three.
Last year in Pullman, Washington State earned the victory, 38-24, snapping the Sun Devils’ three-game winning streak in the series.
Overall, ASU leads the all-time series 26-14-2, dating back to 1960.
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