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Taylor Kelly leads ASU on Halloween haunt of Washington State

(Photo: ASU Athletics)

The Arizona State Sun Devils finally have a road win in 2013, thanks to a 55-21 throttling of the Washington State Cougars on Thursday night.

The Sun Devils had control of this one from the opening drive and looked extremely comfortable for the first time this season when playing away from Sun Devil Stadium.

It was over when: The Sun Devils took the field in Pullman, Wash. The Cougars went three-and-out on each of their first four drives and Taylor Kelly and the offense jumped out to a 21-0 lead before the fans had even taken a seat inside Martin Stadium. While this wasn’t as crisp of a win as the Washington game was, the Sun Devils turned in their most impressive road performance since Todd Graham arrived on campus. That’s not a bad two-week stretch: best game of a coach’s tenure followed by the best road game of his tenure. The Sun Devils will gladly take it.

Player of the Game: How could it be anybody other than Taylor Kelly? The Sun Devils quarterback ran for two touchdowns, the second consecutive game he’s accomplished that, and also looked crisp in the passing game, sans a bad throw that was picked off in the final quarter. Kelly’s final stat line: 22-31 for 275 yards, five touchdowns and one interception, with 13 carries for 66 yards and two touchdowns on the ground. Kelly made good progressions all night, was accurate as could be and also ran the ball extremely well. It was a complete game for him.

Biggest Concern: Health. How’s this for a list: Will Sutton, Davon Coleman, Osahon Irabor, Jaelen Strong, Marion Grice, Cameron Smith and Robert Nelson. Everyone one of those players came off the field at one point with an injury. Most of them returned, but I’m particularly concerned about Smith and Nelson. The Sun Devils have two gaping holes on the roster: receiver and corner. If either, or both, of them miss an extended period of time, it could spell trouble for the Devils.

Unsung Hero: Rick Smith finally had an error-free game. Maybe sitting out against the Huskies last game was a good thing. While Smith was injured in that one, it also allowed the sophomore to reset his mind and get a fresh start on the season, and he needed it. Smith was a drop machine, and up until tonight, had committed the only offensive fumble of the season for the Devils (a costly one against Notre Dame). Smith made the catch of the year on a 51-yard touchdown in the second quarter. Kelly underthrew an open Smith, who tipped the ball away from a Cougar defender, tipped it two more times and then caught it while breaking the tackle for a score.

Stat of the Game: 62.1. The Sun Devils had possession for 37:27 of this one. That’s 62.1 percent of the time. As a result, Arizona State ran 88 plays to just 65 for Wazzu. To compare, the Cougars attempted 89 passes alone against Oregon in their last game. The Sun Devils did a great job of getting the Cougars off the field early and then sustaining long, grinding drives that wore down the home team and took the crowd out of the game.

What’s Next? The Sun Devils are on the road again. This one will be a little harder, as Arizona State travels to Utah to battle the Utes on Saturday, Nov. 9. Utah is pretty bad on the road, but at home they are one of the toughest teams in the Pac-12. The Utes handed Stanford its only loss, and played both UCLA and Oregon State to within a score. If the Sun Devils play like they did tonight in nine days, they will still have a chance to win, but it’s going to be much more difficult.

You can reach Jason Galvin on Twitter @Jason_Galvin or by email

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