In what was the first major showcase of these new Arizona State Sun Devils, we could not have asked for a more exciting game.
When the schedule came out for this season, a couple of games were circled by both the Sun Devil players and their fans. Of course, the game later this season against the University of Arizona was among them, but none was bigger in the early-going than Thursday’s tilt against the Missouri Tigers.
Heading into their first “Blackout” since unveiling the new uniforms, the Devils came in confident. Riding high after a 48-14 win over UC Davis, it certainly looked like things could work out favorably for ASU, against a Tigers squad that didn’t look overly impressive in their Week 1 win over Miami of Ohio.
Early on in the fourth quarter, it looked like the Devils were going to be a lock to win. Brock Osweiler scampered for a 12-yard score, giving Arizona State a 30-16 lead in the first minute of the final frame. But the Tigers wouldn’t be denied.
A muffed punt by Jamal Miles allowed the Tigers to climb within a touchdown, on James Franklin‘s 25-yard toss. With under three to play, Franklin would throw another one, his third score of the game, on a short pass to tight end Michael Agnew.
With the ball in his hands, Franklin was able to get the Tigers within field goal range after a quick three-and-out by Osweiler and the Devils with less than two minutes to play. But Grant Ressel went on to miss the field goal attempt with just seconds left, forcing overtime.
Miles would redeem himself in the overtime, taking a swing pass from Osweiler and carrying it 11 yards for the score. All that was left was a defensive stop on the other end, and the Devils’ D rose to the occasion, forcing two no-gains and an incompletion on fourth down that would seal the 37-30 win.
With the good that is that final score, comes the bad. The defense was soft all night, allowing James Franklin to do a whole lot after a slow start. Henry Josey was also able to torch the ASU defense, averaging 10 yards a carry on his nine touches, as well as 50 yards on his two receptions on the night.
There’s also the matter of penalties, something that has plagued this team the last few years. After some big stops, stupid penalties put the ball back in the Tigers’ hands, and helped them move right down the field. Twelve flags total cost the Sun Devils 112 yards on the night, something Dennis Erickson will need to address if the Devils are hoping to avoid a letdown somewhere on down the road.
Nonetheless, Thursday provided a thrilling win for the Sun Devils and the fanbase in Tempe. Osweiler was steller all night, completing 24 of his 32 passes for 353 yards and three scores, as well as that 12-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter. His biggest weapon on the night proved to be Aaron Pflugrad, who caught eight passes for 180 yards and a pair of touchdowns. If they can get the run game going in the slightest, this is going to be a very dangerous offense for the rest of the Pac-12 to deal with.