It came down to the wire, but the Arizona State Sun Devils were able to pull out a 38-33 victory over the UCLA Bruins Saturday night. Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly was clearly the player of the game as he threw for 226 yards and ran for another 97 on his way to accumulating two touchdowns on the day. Along with their close victory over the Bruins, the Sun Devils also clinched the Pac-12 South division and will be competing in the conference championship game come December 7.
Arizona State’s hopes of competing in the National Championship Game were abolished in their Week 3 loss to the Stanford Cardinal. Their hopes of competing in a BCS Bowl however, are still alive as they would secure a spot in the Rose Bowl if they win the conference championship over whomever secures the Pac-12 North title next weekend.
The Sun Devils are hitting their stride at the right moment as star running back Marion Grice was just as impressive as Kelly; the senior back ran for nearly 100 yards and gained another 72 on seven receptions. Although unable to find the end zone against the Bruins, Grice is possibly the most important offensive player the Sun Devils have, and his late exit due to an non-serious looking ankle injury hopefully proves to be nothing.
The Sun Devils’ defense has been keeping pace with the team’s improving offense as they recorded a total of eight sacks Saturday night against an athletic Brett Hundley, and held the usually dynamic Myles Jack in check most of the night. While their defensive unit isn’t one of the tops in the nation, they have been holding opponents to just 25 points per game and rank 16th nationally in yards against.
Next weekend against the Arizona Wildcats, who upset the Oregon Ducks on Saturday, the Sun Devils will truly get their top notch run defense tested in a game that has minimal ramifications concerning their immediate future. It’s already set in stone that the Sun Devils will participate in the Pac-12 Championship Game, but a win against an in-state rival would make their season all the sweeter.