Devils Tame Cougars, Become Bowl Eligible

With the heralded 1986 and 1996 Rose Bowl teams in attendance, it's only fitting that the Sun Devils would showcase their "Old School" style. With 562 total yards and 47 points, shades of 2005 and an offense that ranked second in the nation, were in full glory. Washington State had no answer to ASU's aerial attack or suffocating defense, as they were routed 47-14 Saturday night in Tempe.

In their first offensive series of the game Arizona State (6-4, 3-4 Pac-10) threw for 55 yards, in what ultimately would be a prelude to their offensive explosion. Ryan Torain scored in that possession from three yards out to put his team up 7-0, less than two and half minutes into the game. Washington State (6-5, 4-4) quickly answered with a touchdown of their own, and fans were wondering if they were in stored for a shootout. Nothing could be further than the truth.

The maroon and gold scored on all its possessions in the first half, while Wazzu was shut out. Rudy Carpenter passed for two touchdowns in the first 30 minutes – a 50-yard strike to Michael   Jones and 34-yard throw to Chris McGaha. Jesse Ainsworth converted three of his career high four field goals in a game, and two of them were over 40 yards – a feat he hasn't accomplished in over two seasons. ASU had a commanding 30-7 lead at the half.

The Cougars scored on their first possession of the second half, but a quick and demoralizing answer was supplied by ASU, in the form of a 62-yards touchdown pass from Carpenter to Brandon Smith. Washington State was intercepted twice in the third quarter, and ASU was picked off once during that period, but neither team was able to capitalize on the other's mistakes. Another Ainsworth field goal and late game touchdown by Preston Jones capped off the scoring, in what was easily the Sun Devils best performance on both sides of the ball.

Carpenter threw for a season-high 339 yards. He had three touchdowns and one interception. Zach Miller caught a team-high six passes and had 84 yards in the game, with a good portion of those catches resulting in a first down. Torain had 84 yards on 19 carries. Zach Catanese and Justin Tryon paced the defense with five tackles each. Keno Walter-White had three pass deflections. The ASU defense limited Washington State to 192 yards of offense.

Will this win be a building block or just a flash in the pan? The line between an 8-4 and 6-6 season is a thin one, and with ASU facing an unpredictable UCLA team and a resurgent Arizona squad, it's anyone's guess how the Sun Devils will fair in their last two contests. For now, the maroon and gold are beaming with optimism. Yet, it's their hunger and motivation that will determine if they regress to mediocrity or soar to one their best finishes in recent memory.

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