Sun Devils overcome adversity to beat USC, become bowl eligible
Nov 7, 2021, 12:59 AM
(AP Photo/Darryl Webb)
TEMPE — Arizona State is officially bowl eligible after a 31-16 win over the USC Trojans at Sun Devil Stadium on Saturday night.
In front of a sellout crowd of 53,926 on military appreciation night — as well as what would’ve been the late Pat Tillman’s 45th birthday — ASU improved its 2021 record to 6-3 (4-2 in Pac-12).
However, it wasn’t the cleanest performance from Arizona State on the night, as the Sun Devils once again led the game in turnovers (three) and finished tied with the Trojans with five penalties apiece.
One of those penalties took away an ASU interception in the end zone and gave USC a first down, which the Trojans were able to capitalize on to take a 10-7 lead in the second quarter.
“The message I sent them all week was about dealing with adversity and when it arrives at your doorstep, how do you look at it?” head coach Herm Edwards said postgame. “They reacted the way that I thought they would react.
“In this game there was some adversity and we didn’t blink on either side of the ball. … It was good to be at home. I think our crowd helped our defense tremendously. When things happened, we needed to make some stops and we were able to do that.”
Arizona State quarterback Jayden Daniels threw two interceptions on the night, bringing the junior QB to seven on the 2021 campaign.
Compare that metric to Daniels’ previous 16 games in a Sun Devils uniform where he only managed to throw a total of three INTs.
“When you turn the ball over like we did offensively at times, that’s tough to recover,” Edwards said. “But I think our guys had the mindset of when adversity hit, we’re gonna play through it and they did that. Offensively I think the line did a fabulous job. When you can run the ball for 280-plus yards, you’re gonna win a football game.”
ASU was able to respond to the aforementioned adversity by running the ball down the throats of USC. The Sun Devils totaled 282 yards and four rushing touchdowns on the night, of which 202 yards and three scores belonged to Rachaad White on 28 carries (7.2 per rush).
Running back DeaMonte “Chip” Trayanum actually scored the first TD of the ballgame, but after fumbling in the second quarter, the back didn’t see the field for the remainder of the game.
“There’s always consequences but I’m not benching Jayden. … I’m not and (Trayanum) wasn’t benched,” Edwards explained. “It was just the other guy had a hot hand for the most part. DeaMonte is a big part of our backfield. We have three backs. But No. 3 was running, he ran well and the offensive line blocked well.”
“DeaMonte is going to carry the ball for us,” Edwards added. “Next week he’s running. We need him to run and he is a conscientious guy. He feels as bad as anybody. … He’s going to be fine. We’re going to need him down the stretch.”
Coming into the week, Edwards had been preaching that the next step for Arizona State was to become bowl eligible.
And now that the Sun Devils have gotten win No. 6 on the season, ASU will be playing postseason football for the third time in four years in the Edwards era. Last year’s COVID-shortened season is the lone outlier while at the helm of Sun Devil football.
“It’s a credit to the players, to the staff. We’ve been fortunate,” he said. “We missed a bowl last year due to COVID, but other than that we’ve been in a bowl every year. So good for them.”
“Now we want to just try winning games. That’s the whole key. We gotta go play Washington. I was watching them earlier. I go, ‘Oh boy, they have a really good defense.’ So the next three weeks are going to be hard football. That’s the way it works.”
Arizona State travels to up north to take on the Washington Huskies in Seattle.
Kickoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Catch all the action on 98.7 FM Arizona’s Sports Station.