2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Arizona State at Utah
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Oct. 8 Arizona State 35 … at Utah 14
CFN Analysis: The defense did its job against the mistake-prone Utes, but the offense did its job too with Brock Osweiler throwing for 325 yards and three touchdowns to make it a blowout. The defense stepped up its game in the third quarter, Osweiler took advantage, and the Sun Devils keep on rolling. Now the South appears to be over with the date at Oregon up next a possible Pac-12 title game preview. The offense could use a bit more out of the running game, but the defense is forcing the mistakes needed and the defensive front seven is doing a great job against the run and getting to the quarterback.
It's not fair to blame the collapse fully on the loss of Jordan Wynn, but Jon Hays threw three picks and the offense couldn't overcome the mistakes. ASU's passing game worked too well against the Ute secondary that continues to have problems, while the Ute attack couldn't keep up the pace once the game started to slip away. The Utes have scored 14 points in each of the first three Pac-12 games, and now they have to go on the road for three of the next four games starting with a non-conference date at Pitt. The running game has to suddenly show up to make up for the quarterback issues, and the defense has to be far better, but more than anything else there can't be another five turnover game.
(AP) SALT LAKE CITY -- Arizona State was forcing turnovers so quickly in the second half, trainers didn't even have time to get the blood off Brock Osweiler's jersey.
"They were cleaning it one second and the next second it was, 'Hey, you got to go,'" the Sun Devils' 6-foot-8 quarterback said. "But that's a credit to our defense. They were staying focused, playing with a lot of intensity, creating turnovers."
Three Utah turnovers on consecutive possessions late in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth helped turn a close game into 35-14 victory for No. 22 Arizona State.
When it was over, the Utes (2-3, 0-3) had committed five turnovers for the second straight game -- and the result wasn't much different than last week's 31-14 loss to Washington.
"The wheels came off," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said. "We'll start winning games when we stop turning the ball over. That's the bottom line. Until that happens it's going to be a long road."
Osweiler finished 25 of 41 for 325 yards and three touchdowns for Arizona State (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12). It was the third 300-yard game of his career.
Jon Hays threw three interceptions in his first major-college start in place of injured Jordan Wynn.
For a while, the junior college transfer was holding his own.
Utah had taken a 14-10 lead with 10:32 left in the third quarter on Hays' 2-yard TD pass to tight end Dallin Rogers.
Arizona State then scored 18 straight points in less than four minutes to take a 28-14 lead.
Alex Garoutte's 35-yard field goal cut the gap to 1 with 5 minutes left in the third.
Then Shelly Lyons forced a John White fumble. Five plays later, Osweiler tossed a 14-yard TD pass to Mike Willie, and added a 2-point conversion to Aaron Pflugrad, for a 21-14 lead.
Clint Floyd then intercepted Hays on Utah's next play from scrimmage. Cameron Marshall scored on a 4-yard run 68 seconds later.
The Sun Devils turned Utah's fifth turnover of the game into another seven points, with Osweiler's 12-yard TD pass to Willie capping a 10-play drive set up by Reggie Dunn's fumble with 14:12 left to play.
Floyd forced that turnover also.
"It's big for us," Floyd said of the road win, only the fourth in their last 13 trips. "We knew the second half was our half."
Willie had only 10 catches for 136 yards the first five games. He nearly matched that Saturday with seven for 98 yards. Gerell Robinson had seven for 101.
"That was our game plan," Osweiler said of using Willie and Robinson more. "We have tremendous wide receivers on the outside ... and we really haven't gotten the guys the football this year. They deserve their touches."
It helped that Utah was playing an eight-man front, and a lot of man-to-man.
"If they want to man (Willie) up or any of our receivers, we'll take our chances," Osweiler said.
At the beginning of the season, many thought the Pac-12 South would be a three-team race between USC, Arizona State and Utah, a new member in the conference.
Now everything is lined up for Sun Devils to claim the South. They already have big wins over the Trojans and now Utah.
Though they play at Oregon next week, they should be favored in the rest of their games -- Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, Arizona and California. ASU does not play Stanford or Washington, which entered the weekend atop the North division standings.
Osweiler had done everything but win on the road against a tough defense. He turned the ball over three times in a road loss to Illinois, and entered Saturday's game with six interceptions on the season.
He played mistake-free ball Saturday in a game dominated by defense early.
ASU defensive coordinator Craig Bray was simply glad he had enough players to field his various units.
The Sun Devils lost cornerback Omar Bolden in the spring, linebacker Brandon Magee in the fall and were without defensive end Junior Onyeali because of a knee injury. On Saturday starting cornerback Osahon Irabor suffered back spasms early.
Bray filled the holes.
"They're a bunch of resilient guys," Bray said. "We actually looked pretty ugly at times, but we're coming up with turnovers."
Bray took the blame for Utah's first touchdown, a 30-yard run by White with 10:01 left in the first quarter.
"We got punched in the mouth because I made a bad call," Bray said.
After that, the Utes would score just once more, giving ASU eight straight wins against Utah, which is learning the Pac-12 is a lot tougher than the Mountain West.
Osweiler showed he and the team could put together a solid outing on the road against a tough defense.
"I think we passed with flying colors," he said. "Obviously there are things we'll do better. But the biggest thing is we just won a football game on the road against a very good quality opponent. ... It means a lot to this team. We need to learn how to do this week in and week out."
Arizona State (4-1) at Utah (2-2) Oct. 8, 3:30, FSN
Here's The Deal … Is anyone capable of rising up and making the Pac-12 South race interesting this fall? Arizona State has already jumped out to a commanding lead in the bottom-heavy division with back-to-back wins over USC and Oregon State. The Sun Devils were not at their best against the Beavers on Saturday night, falling behind 13-0, but battled back and found a way to win. Pulling through on an otherwise mediocre night was a promising sign for a program that probably would have lost that kind of a game a year ago.
Not long ago, Utah appeared to be a divisional contender, but not so much now that it's dropped its first two conference games. The most recent one last weekend was crippling for a couple of reasons. First, the Utes were thoroughly outclassed in their own building by Washington, 31-14. And more important on a long-term basis, QB Jordan Wynn is going to miss at least the next few weeks with a recurring shoulder injury that's threatening his career.
Why Arizona State Might Win: LB Vontaze Burfict and his defensive cronies will attempt to rattle Butte (Calif.) College transfer Jon Hays in the first start of his career under center for Utah. Despite the intermittent heroics of RB John White, the Utes rank last in the Pac-12 in total offense. The absence of Wynn isn't likely to help the situation. The Sun Devils pass defense has been a surprise so far in 2011, picking off seven passes and allowing three touchdown throws over the last three games. The linebackers are active in coverage, and starting corners Deveron Carr and Osahon Irabor have consistently stuck to the other guy's top receivers. As starting debuts go, this will be a rough draw for Hays.
Why Utah Might Win: Yeah, last week against the Huskies was an exception, but the Utes have generally played pretty well on defense so far this fall. It's the kind of blue-collar, no-nonsense group that'll frustrate the speed and flash of the Arizona State skill position players. Utah will also enjoy an edge at the line of scrimmage, where NT Star Lotulelei and ends Derrick Shelby and Joe Kruger should be able to move an average collection of opposing blockers off the ball. Whatever drifts beyond the first line of defense will be cleaned up by steady linebackers Brian Blechen, Chazz Walker and Matt Martinez.
What To Watch Out For: Although his touches have been sporadic, junior Jamal Miles is one of Arizona State's most important offensive weapons. He's a speedy do-it-all type wide receiver who entices the Sun Devils coaching staff to invent new ways to get the ball in his hands. Through the first five games, ASU's jack-of-all-trades has already thrown a scoring strike, caught three touchdown passes and returned both a punt and kickoff for six. He's also rushed for 98 yards on 12 carries, so it's only a matter of time before he produces a touchdown on the ground.
What Will Happen: Regardless of the circumstances, it's never wise to take a Kyle Whittingham-coached lightly. Arizona State knows it. The Utes are a plucky bunch that'll rally around their new quarterback, and make the Sun Devils earn their spot atop the Pac-12 South. However, this is a different ASU team, a more resilient one that's learning how to win in less than ideal situations. It'll require all four quarters, but the Devils will survive a close call behind a couple of late stops from the defense.
CFN Prediction: Arizona State 30 … Utah 23
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Arizona State -4 O/U: 48
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