(Photo: Casey Ferreirae/WCSN)
Arizona State fans spent all week smelling roses. Too bad those were just the flowers on the Stanford bus at it rolled through Tempe.
The Sun Devils gave up touchdowns on each of the Cardinal’s first four drives and never recovered, losing 38-14 in the Pac-12 Championship game on Saturday night.
It was over when: Arizona State put its goal line quarterback, Michael Eubank, in the game and he failed to get the team into the end zone late in the third quarter. A touchdown would’ve brought the score to 31-21, but instead Stanford took possession and proceeded to go 99 yards for a game-sealing touchdown.
Player of the Game: Stanford quarterback Kevin Hogan entered the game without a convincing road victory on his resume. That changed on Saturday night. The quarterback remained calm in the pocket, despite an onslaught of Sun Devil blitzes, and delivered great deep pass after great deep pass, culminating with a 77-yarder to Devonte Cajuste and a 24-yard touchdown to Ty Montgomery on the aforementioned game-sealing drive.
When the Sun Devils finally found a way to stop the Cardinal from running all over the field, Hogan stepped up and put the game away.
Biggest Concern: Arizona State is just not nearly physical enough to play with a team like Stanford yet. Todd Graham and the coaching staff’s sole target in recruiting from here on out should be big, strong bodies to play on both lines. The Sun Devils were manhandled in the running game by Stanford’s offensive line, while Arizona State’s line failed to open many big holes for any of the running backs in the rotation.
Unsung Hero: D.J. Foster was the only reason ASU was ever remotely in this game; and even then, they never really were. Foster exploded for two huge touchdowns, a 51-yard run and a 65-yard catch on a screen. Unfortunately, Foster went down with a leg injury early in the third quarter, and while he later returned, was not nearly as effective from that point forward. Still, Foster proved once again that the Sun Devils need not worry about the loss of Marion Grice next season; they have their running back.
Stat of the Game: 23. Kevin Hogan averaged 23 yards per completion on Saturday night, throwing for 277 yards on just 12 completions. Stanford has never been a vertical passing team, but they were on Saturday night, and the Sun Devil were caught off guard by it.
What’s Next: The Sun Devils will still play in one of the bigger bowl games. It should be either the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio or the Holiday Bowl in San Diego. The Alamo Bowl has the first pick of teams, and will be choosing between ASU and Oregon, as long as the Ducks don’t get into a BCS game. In the latter case, ASU is definitely Alamo Bowl-bound.
You can reach Jason Galvin on Twitter @Jason_Galvin or by email firstname.lastname@example.org