Quarterback Danny Sullivan summed it up perfectly when he said simply that "we got manhandled tonight."
The Arizona State defense has made a habit of beating their opponent by being the more physical team, on Saturday it wasn't even close. The Cardinal offensive line dominated ASU's defense and Toby Gerhart bulldozed his way to 125 yards on the ground.
It was the first time ASU has allowed a back to go over 100 yards this season.
ASU's defense forced Stanford to go three and out on the first possession of the game, but as a sign of things to come, the Devils quickly had to punt themselves, putting their defense right back on the field.
Right after their first drive was unable to muster anything, the factors that changed the football game shifted Stanford's way. Field position and time of possession were key and Stanford's second possession started on their own 48.
Gerhart pounded it down to ASU 22 yard line and with the box stacked to stop the senior tailback, the Cardinal ran a reverse to wide receiver Jamal-Rashad Patterson and he went untouched into the end zone to put Stanford up 7-0 with 8:30 to play in the first quarter.
ASU again went three and out and put the defense back onto the field just a minute and thirty seconds after giving up the touchdown.
The defense appeared to get a stop when Stanford kicker Nathan Whitaker missed a 47-yard field goal, but freshman Vontaze Burfict was called for a leaping penalty on the kick, giving the Cardinal a first down on the ASU 15. The defense held again, but this time Whitaker connected from 27 yards to increase the Stanford lead to 10-0 with 1:44 left in the first quarter.
Stanford continued to physically overpower the Sun Devils and a touchdown from Gerhart and fullback Owen Marecic put the Cardinal up 24-0 at the break. It was the first time all season that Stanford held a team scoreless in the first half.
"We dug ourselves in a whole in the first half and it's tough to come back from that," quarterback Danny Sullivan said.
Coming out of the locker room ASU's offense looked like they gained a spark they lacked in the first half against a Stanford defense that allowed over 500 yards last week against UA.
Sullivan connected with Chris McGaha for an 18 yard touchdown on the Sun Devils' first drive of the second half and cut the lead to 24-7.
Momentum continued to swing in ASU's favor when the defense stuffed Gerhart on a fourth and goal from the one-yard-line, but the offense couldn't flip the field position for the rest of the game.
After another field goal from Whitaker, ASU cut it to just a two possession game on a 40-yard touchdown strike from Sullivan to T.J. Simpson. But the defense couldn't get a stop when it needed to and there was no chance of a comeback after that.
"We had a chance to stop them on defense, to get a three and out, but we didn't do that." Erickson said, "Gerhart is a great player. They ran play action pass and got a lot of big plays in the passing game (as well)."
Not only was Gerhart having success on the ground, but redshirt freshman quarterback Andrew Luck ate apart the Sun Devil defense with a good mix of play action and rollouts. Luck finished 17-28 for 236 yards.
"He has a chance to be a great one." Erickson said of Luck, "Luck is a heck of a young player. He is very mobile and has a very good arm."
In their previous losses this season it was easy to point the finger at the offense, but on Homecoming night at Stanford, both sides of the ball struggled. The offense mustered just 290 yards of total offense and the defense allowed 473 yards.
"It is a combination of a lot of different errors in our football team," Erickson said, "We didn't play very well and they played well."
But the most disturbing sight was that for the first time, ASU was physically beat up by an opponent.
"They physically beat us on both sides of the football." Erickson said. "You have to give Stanford credit, they are a physical team and they have been all year and that is what they did to us."
All of a sudden the play that was supposed to spark the rest of the season has burnt out and ASU is left trying to pick up the pieces.