Stanford Stampede

Momentum or lack of can be deceiving, and the Sun Devil fans learned that painful lesson on Saturday night. ASU was running high off of a dramatic victory and a two-game winning streak. Stanford on the other hand, dropped two straight and looked ripe for another familiar last season tailspin. Nonetheless, the hosts pounded on ASU early in the game and earned a 33-14 win.

Arizona State's offensive struggles in 2009 have been well documented, but its futility reached a new low versus Stanford, as the Sun Devils were shut out 24-0 in the first half. The first pass completion for the visitors took place only 50 seconds from the end of the first quarter, a period when the maroon and gold offense were able to collect just 23 yards.

The usual dominating defense had a horrible first stanza as well. ASU's front seven who usually makes life miserable for opposing rushing offenses, gave up chunks of real estate in Palo Alto tonight. True to script, this only enhanced the Cardinal's passing game and the result was a balanced offense which the Sun Devil defenders didn't have an answer for most of the contest.

A defense which gave up just 248 yards a game, surrendered 299 after just 30 minutes.

The highest total by any opposing rusher until tonight was 81 yards (Jacquizz Rodgers), but Toby Gerhart came as advertised and ran over the Sun Devil defense for 126 yards.

Late in the second half, Stanford was averaging nine gained yards on first down. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who had three personal fouls in the first half against Washington last week, added one more against Stanford, on a touchdown drive, and a leaping penalty negated a missed Stanford field goal. Even when the ASU offense got a good number of yards, like on a reverse play by Jamal Miles, it culminated with a lost fumble.

Yes, it was that kind of a game.

Sullivan was the hero of last week's contest, but unfortunately in front of 200 family and friends from his nearby hometown of Los Gatos, the senior struggled again to get anything going. When he had a chance to pick up a first down with his feet he slid too early and short of the marker. On top of that, he injured his knee after throwing his second touchdown pass of the game and didn't return to the game.

Sullivan finished 12 of 23 for 144 yards.

Brock Osweiler played the last seven and half minutes of the game, and didn't fare much better going 1 of 7 for 18 yards.

Because ASU put themselves in a hole, it would be hard to give a true assessment of the running game. Yet, the seldom used Ryan Bass stood out with four rushes for 30 yards and was one of the only bright spots on offense. The offensive line protected well and gave up its first sack well in the fourth quarter when the Cardinal defense were pinning its ears and rushing the quarterback on every snap.

The defense did limit Stanford to nine points in the second half, but the damage on both sides of the ball was too much to overcome.

Where do the Sun Devils go from here? The most brutal part of the schedule awaits them with games against Cal, USC and a road contest at Oregon. The potential of a long losing skid will undoubtedly come up repeatedly in the next few days.

It would be the clear opposite of the aforementioned momentum that was apparently building in Tempe.

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