ARIZONA STATE FOOTBALL

Pac Mentality Week 11: Another statement win for Arizona State, Oregon Ducks clinch North

Nov 9, 2014, 6:14 PM | Updated: Nov 12, 2014, 7:33 pm

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IF the Sun Devils can get past Utah, and then IF they can find a way to beat Notre Dame, they’ll be in the College Football Playoff conversation.”

That was a sampling of the talk around the Valley the last few weeks, and now those two enormous ‘ifs’ are just Ws for Arizona State.

The ninth-ranked Sun Devils dominated the first half of Saturday’s game.

First, they built a 31-point lead and then they hung on for dear life in a 55-31 win over Notre Dame to push their record to 8-1. Taylor Kelly threw three touchdown passes and ran for another and ASU’s defense shined, forcing five turnovers, registering seven sacks and returning two interceptions for touchdowns in the win.

“That is a good team. Coach Kelly is an incredible football coach,” ASU head coach Todd Graham said. “I have been coaching against him since 2010. Anytime you can beat a football team with that talent, coaching, and character is amazing. The only other football team that has beaten them is Florida State. I think we beat them more soundly. It makes a big statement that we can beat a very good football team. We have not reached any of our goals but that has been the biggest win we have had since I have been here.”

Graham’s team finds itself in a good position after the win. Three teams ranked ahead of them in the College Football Rankings — Auburn, Kansas State and Michigan State — lost Saturday. The Sun Devils have very winnable games against Oregon State and Washington State before their season-ending Territorial Cup showdown with Arizona in Tucson.

What Else Transpired in Week 11

Washington State 39…..Oregon State 32 – Freshman Luke Falk made his first start at QB for the Cougars and played outstanding. He completed 44-of-61 for 471 yards and five touchdowns and Wazzu earned their second road conference win this season. Washington State also snapped a four-game losing streak in the process.

UCLA 44…..Washington 30 – The mysterious UCLA Bruins just keep on winning, this week unleashing a balanced offensive attack on the Huskies. Brett Hundley threw for 302 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another two scores. UCLA remains just a half-game behind ASU for the lead in the Pac-12 South.

Arizona 38…..Colorado 20 – Anu Solomon broke open a tight, four-point game with two touchdown passes to Samajie Grant in the fourth quarter for the Wildcats. The big difference in the game was turnovers — CU turned it over four times, including a Sefo Liufau fumble that was returned 22 yards for a touchdown by Arizona’s Tra’Mayne Bondurant in the first quarter.

Oregon 51…..Utah 27 – Utah started strong and appeared to have built a two-touchdown lead, but Kaelin Clay’s colossal brain fart turned into a 100-yard fumble return for a touchdown for the Ducks (more on that later). Utah actually closed to within three points early in the fourth quarter, but Oregon scored three straight touchdowns to put away the win, which clinched the Pac-12 North for the Ducks.

Did you see that?

ASU receiver Jaelen Strong had the highlight of the weekend, snaring a 13-yard Taylor Kelly touchdown pass with one hand. The score gave ASU their first lead of the game against Notre Dame.

What was that?

What was Kaelin Clay thinking? The Utah receiver caught a gorgeous pass from Travis Wilson and it should have been a 78-yard touchdown strike. Should have been. In his haste to celebrate, Clay clearly dropped the ball before getting into the end zone (that different-colored paint is a dead giveaway, Kaelin). While the Utes celebrated in the end zone, Joe Walker picked up the ball and ran 100 yards the other way for a score. I’m not saying that if Clay gets the ball into the end zone, Utah wins. But it was an enormous 14-point swing and a momentum shifter for the Ducks, who would then reel off 24 straight points.

“I know how important points are, especially against a team like this. I take full responsibility for what happened tonight,” Clay said. “I will take the criticism and the blame. It was just one of those things. I got excited and let the moment just get away from me. Again, I take full responsibility for this.”

Marotta’s Players of the Week

• Offense – Luke Falk, QB, Washington State – Not a bad first start for the freshman, going on the road and throwing five touchdown passes to beat Oregon State in Corvallis.

Honorable Mention: Arizona WR Samajie Grant, UCLA QB Brett Hundley, ASU QB Taylor Kelly, Oregon QB Marcus Mariota, Arizona QB Anu Solomon

• Defense – Marcus Hardison, DL, Arizona State – Hardison didn’t put up gaudy numbers, but had his fingerprints all over the Sun Devils’ win. The senior had a sack, an interception and two deflections, one of which was returned 59 yards for a touchdown by Demarious Randall in a key first-half surge.

Honorable Mention: Arizona LB Tra’Mayne Bondurant, Arizona State CB Lloyd Carrington, UCLA LB Deon Hollins, UCLA LB Eric Kendricks, Oregon LB Joe Walker, Arizona LB Scooby Wright

• Special Teams – John Ross, KR, Washington – Slim pickings this week, but Ross did have a 100-yard kickoff return for the Huskies in their loss to UCLA.

Honorable Mention: UCLA K Ka’imi Fairbairn, Oregon K Aidan Schneider, Washington K Cameron Van Winkle

Quotes

“We surprised a lot of people but we have not surprised ourselves. When you work hard and do practice the right way, we expect the result. Our guys are talented. I am proud of the players’ development. I am proud of our coaches and how they teach. I think our fans in the stands got their money’s worth today. We had a lot of explosive plays. We have a real football team. I am very proud of them.” — Arizona State head coach Todd Graham

“I was excited about the way the UCLA Bruins played. Other than that it was just a game. I’m happy my mom was here, my brothers. Other than that I could care less. I’m happy we’re 8-2. I’m happy for my players. Other than that it doesn’t matter to me.” — UCLA head coach Jim Mora on his return to Seattle, where he played his college ball in the 1980s.

“The first half was extraordinarily disappointing. UCLA is good and they brought their A game and we certainly did not play hard. Once we got embarrassed there a little bit, we went to the locker room and adjusted a little bit then started doing a few things. We have a mix of new guys and guys who have played and we need to get everyone up to speed as fast as possible. We have to compete harder all the time. I thought we did a good job in the second half but we have to do a better job in that first half. It’s a four quarter game.” — Washington head coach Chris Petersen

“It was a good win and I told the team the more you win, the more is at stake. There is a lot at stake the next few weeks and I think regardless, our senior class gets to go out as winners and that’s a nice accomplishment for them.” — Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez

“I thought our kids played extremely hard again; they always will. They’ve got a never‐give‐up attitude. We can’t turn the ball over in the Pac‐12 and expect to win. We did have three fourth‐down stops that I consider like turnovers. We’ve got to find a way to quit shooting ourselves in the foot. It’s very difficult to beat a good football team if we do that. But I thought we played extremely hard. I thought we played hard enough and well enough at times to have a chance to win the football game, but the turnovers hurt us again. We’ve got to find a way to fix that.” — Colorado head coach Mike MacIntyre

“This is the story so far for us and the story for how the games are played in our league. It’s another fourth-quarter game you have a chance to win. They made the plays and we didn’t and I’m really disappointed about all of that.” — Oregon State head coach Mike Riley

“He played real controlled and calm and I think especially with the transition, I think that it calms our offense and our team as a whole. Because a lot of times, just the dynamic of the change, will stir people up a little bit. He has calmness about him on the field with his demeanor, which I think was very positive and made the transition pretty seamless.” — Washington State head coach Mike Leach on the performance of freshman QB Luke Falk.

“A gutty win. A gutty, gutty win by our team. A huge turn of events, obviously, on the fumble going into the end zone. A great lesson for all of us. Just really, really proud of our effort. We had a bunch of guys in and out of the lineup all over the place. An incredible effort by our guys. Definitely not a garden-variety 51-27 win; but a big, big win for a lot of reasons.” — Oregon head coach Mark Helfrich

“[Oregon] is a great football team. The Oregon Ducks may be one of the best teams in the nation. They have a bunch of playmakers and probably the best quarterback in college football.” — Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham

Notes

• Washington allowed 40+ points for the 3rd time in 10 games this season under Chris Petersen. In 105 games as the head coach at Boise State, Petersen’s Broncos allowed 40+ just 4 times. (ESPN Stats and Information)

• UCLA has won nine straight games away from the Rose Bowl.

• ASU’s win over Notre Dame was their first over a top-ten opponent since 2002, when they knocked off sixth-ranked Oregon.

• Arizona linebacker Scooby Wright has registered at least one sack in six straight games. He has 13 for the season.

• Washington’s Hau’Oli Kikaha had one sack before leaving the game with a stinger. He’s registered a sack in 14 consecutive games.

• Oregon QB Marcus Mariota has had 10 straight games with more than one touchdown pass. He’s also thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 36 of his career games.

• Oregon State QB Sean Mannion threw for a season-high 419 yards, but had only one TD pass. Mannion has just 10 touchdown throws this year. Last year, he had 31 through nine games.

A Look Ahead to Week 12

The week begins on Thursday as the USC Trojans try to keep their Pac-12 South title hopes alive when they host Cal at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Saturday, Washington visits Arizona, Utah is on the road at Stanford and Arizona State tries to stay hot at Oregon State.

Full Pac-12 TV Schedule

Date Game Time Site Network
Thurs. Nov 13 California at USC 7:00 p.m. Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum ESPN
Sat. Nov 15 Washington at Arizona 1:30 p.m. Arizona Stadium FOX
Sat. Nov 15 Utah at Stanford 4:00 p.m. Stanford Stadium Pac-12 Networks
Sat. Nov 15 Arizona State at Oregon State 8:45 p.m. Reser Stadium ESPN

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