For the third consecutive year, Todd Graham and the Arizona State Sun Devils opened their regular season against an FCS opponent Thursday.
And for the third consecutive year, the reigning Pac-12 South champions greeted their overmatched visitor with a one-sided rout.
Taylor Kelly threw for 238 yards and a score, Jaelen Strong caught 10 passes for 146 yards and D.J. Foster rushed 147 yards and three touchdowns, as the No. 19-ranked Sun Devils stomped the Wildcats by a final of 45-14 at Sun Devil Stadium.
With the win, Arizona State improved to 9-0 over the last 10 years in games played against the Big Sky Conference.
Additionally, the Sun Devils moved to 8-2 in August/September contests played under Graham.
Here’s a look at the Opening Night rout by the numbers:
ASU’s defensive stand of the night came at the beginning of the second quarter. After the Wildcats maneuvered their way down to the two-yard line, the Sun Devils forced quarterback Billy Green to fumble on the goal line on a third down rush. The ball was recovered by Weber State but short of the end zone. On the ensuing play, the Sun Devils’ defensive line remained stout, stuffing Zach Smith ‘s fourth down rush at the line.
The Sun Devils’ shining moment on offense came directly following their goal line stand. Kelly and Co. quickly drove down the length of the field, going 99 yards in the span of 2:18. ASU’s nine-play drive was capped off by the second of Foster’s three scores.
With the loss, Weber State fell to 3-51 all-time in games vs. FBS schools. That record includes a current losing streak of 28 games dating back over two decades.
There must be something about Sun Devil Stadium for Foster. For the fourth time in his collegiate career, the junior tailback reached the end zone on two or more occasions. Three of his four multi-touchdown performances have come in Tempe.
For the eighth time in his ASU career, Strong eclipsed the 100-yard receiving mark — doing so in a rather speedy 19 minutes of game action Thursday night. Arguably more remarkable is the fact that the opener was just the wideout’s 15th game in a Sun Devils uniform.
Even in victory, the Sun Devils saw one streak come to an end. While ASU’s defense had a nice night overall, it failed to come up with a single turnover. Coming into the night, the Sun Devils had at least one takeaway in each of their last 29 games.
Foster’s 57-yard touchdown in the opening minutes of the third quarter marked the longest run of his ASU career surpassing the 51-yard score he had against Stanford in the 2013 Pac-12 Championship Game.
Weber State’s biggest highlight of the night came with just over five minutes left in the ballgame, when Brown scampered untouched down the middle of the field for a 60-yard touchdown.
ASU has given up at least one touchdown of 60 yards or more in each of its last three games dating back to 2013.
As was mentioned above, ASU has not been the most gracious of hosts to its FCS opponents under Graham. Including Thursday’s blowout, the Sun Devils have outscored their last three Week 1 opponents by a margin of 163-20.