Defensive effort wasted against Stanford

ASU held no. 6 ranked Stanford, a squad that averaged over 42 points per game, to only 17 on Saturday night. Yet, that stellar performance could not negate a sluggish offense who squandered several opportunities to give the Sun Devils a rare win over a ranked team as they were edged 17-13 at home by the Cardinal.

Arizona State (4-6, 2-5 Pac-10) is now all but eliminated from the post-season, unless they win their remaining two contests of the year and receive a waiver from the NCAA to go to a bowl game with just six wins, two of them coming against FCS opponents.

"Very disappointing," ASU head coach Erickson said of his team not qualifying for a bowl game. "Obviously that was our goal going into the season and we knew we had to win the last three games to get there. A lot of disappointing losses and our goal was to get there and we're not going. We've got two football games left that are very important. We've got a bye next week and that's all we can focus on right now."

After ASU went three-and-out in their first possession, Stanford (9-1, 6-1) needed to march just 50 yards on nine plays as Owen Marecic scored from one yard out to put the visitors on top. In the ensuing possession Steven Threet scored a 4-yard scamper to tie the game.

After Stanford was forced to punt, a Threet interception stalled the Sun Devil drive and a chance to build on their momentum. The junior signal caller committed another costly first half mistake as he fumbled on Stanford's one-yard line as he tried to score and the ball was recovered for a touchback.

The Cardinal gave the ball back as quarterback Andrew Luck was sacked by linebacker Oliver Aaron and his fumble was recovered by defensive lineman Junior Onyeali. Later in the second quarter the visitors missed a 34-yard field goal sending both teams to the locker room tied at seven points apiece.

Stanford's Nate Whitaker did convert on his second attempt of the night, from 44 yards out, to give his team a brief lead, as ASU answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass from Threet to Kerry Taylor giving ASU a 13-10 edge, their only lead of the night.

The Sun Devil defense continued to hold strong, in part by an interception by safety Eddie Elder, until the middle of the fourth quarter when the wheels seemed to fall off, albeit in part due to questionable penalties.

A second Elder pick was nullified by a holding call and four plays later linebacker Vontaze Burfict was called for a face mask penalty and immediately thereafter for a unsportsmanlike conduct for arguing that call.

Those infractions ultimately put the ball on ASU's 7-yard line and with 5:14 left in the game Marecic once again scores from one yard posting the final points of the contest.

Threet completed 16 of 26 passes for 158 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Cameron Marshall led all players with 92 yards on 12 carries. T.J. Simpson had four catches to pace all ASU wide receivers and collected 27 yards.

Luck didn't throw a touchdown as he completed 33 out of 44 passes for 292 yards. Stanford receiver Doug Baldwin hauled in ten receptions for 122 yards. Stanford outgained ASU 420 to 268 in offensive yards and 42:25 to 17:35 in time of possession. The Sun Devils were just 1 of 9 in 3rd down conversions and committed eight penalties for 67 yards.

ASU will meet UCLA in 13 days for their last home contest in 2010 knowing that a loss in the game guarantees an unprecedented (at least in the modern era) third consecutive losing season. This upcoming bye week should offer some time for the maroon and gold for some soul searching in an attempt to try and salvage what is left from this season.

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