California Blackout

Sure, California quarterback Aaron Rodgers and running back J.J. Arrington get the lion share of the publicity for the Golden Bears. However, tonight in Berkeley, the stout yet less heralded California defense was spectacular as they shut out ASU for the first time since 1995, a span of 109 games, to the tune of 27-0.

The five ASU turnovers, four fumbles and one interception, were the clear difference tonight in strawberry canyon. Quarterback Andrew Walter, who failed tonight to eclipse John Elway's record for most Pac-10 career touchdowns, had one of his worst games in the maroon and gold. The senior who completed 25-41 passes for 238 yards, missed open receivers on several occasions and his lone pick was a costly one as it was returned for a touchdown. Running back Hakim Hill, coming back from a one-game suspension, collected 104 yards on only nine carries. Tight end Zach Miller led the team with six receptions while amassing 46 yards.

The Sun Devil defense may have not had an answer to Arrington who had 188 yards on 30 carries and a touchdown, but did an admirable job on Rodgers who was 15-29 for only 165 yards. Wide receiver Robert Jordan was the prime beneficiary of those throws, as he hauled in seven receptions for 116 yards, and the game's first touchdown in the opening minute of the contest. This is one defeat that the defense shouldn't take the main blame for, as they were mostly working on a short field due to all the team's turnovers. Safety Riccardo Stewart and defensive end Ishmael Thrower were the Sun Devil standouts on this side of the ball.

Up next for Dirk Koetter's team is a meeting with Stanford, who just like the Devils will be playing following a scoreless affair of their own (a 21-0 loss to UCLA). On paper, the rest of ASU's games (Washington State and Arizona being the last opponents following the Cardinal) are more winnable than the Cal one. However, it's imperative that ASU not get ahead of itself, successfully shake off another lopsided loss in the last three weeks, and work on finishing the season on a winning note. After all, frustration can turn into elation quite quickly with a string of victories.

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