The first half of ASU’s 46-7 thrashing of Washington State was played under an overcast sky, but as the clouds parted, the sun shine illuminated the seniors in their last game at Sun Devil Stadium.
“This whole week of practice — everything — was dedicated to the seniors and all the hard work they have put in (during) their time here,” freshman running back D.J. Foster said. “(After the game) coach (Todd) Graham talked about it and we know we still have a big game ahead of us, but everything we did out there today was for the seniors.”
The Sun Devils (6-5, 4-4 Pac-12) outplayed the Cougars (2-9, 0-8 Pac-12) in every facet of the game, and several of the 17 ASU seniors contributed.
ASU’s defense limited the Cougars to just one rushing yard and a pedestrian 240 passing yards, 87 of which came late in the fourth quarter on Washington State’s lone scoring possession.
“Our d-line did a good job of mixing it up, doing some stunts and being effective on the run,” redshirt senior linebacker Brandon Magee said. “Give the d-line credit for that.”
Not only did the Sun Devils’ defense keep the Cougars offense from scoring for the better part of 59 minutes, but ASU did not even allow Washington State to cross mid field until there was two minutes and 41 seconds left in the first half.
Since Washington State was struggling to move the ball, the ASU offense often found itself with favorable field position as it started three of its first four drives in Cougar territory.
The Sun Devils took advantage as redshirt sophomore quarterback Taylor Kelly and redshirt freshman quarterback Michael Eubank combined for 301 yards and five touchdowns through the air. The duo threw 32 passes, completing 27 of them.
Nine different Sun Devils caught passes, including senior wide receiver Rashad Ross, who was among those playing their final game at Sun Devil Stadium.
Ross finished with eight receptions for 79 yards and two touchdowns.
“That felt great to me,” Ross said. “Early on, we were not producing as receivers, and today we clicked. It wasn’t just me catching balls. (Senior wide receiver) Jamal (Miles) caught some balls, (junior tight end) Chris (Coyle) caught some balls and we were all feeding off each other’s energy.”
Not only was Saturday’s win big because it was the seniors’ last game at Sun Devil Stadium, but it also snapped ASU’s four game losing streak.
“Getting a win coming off of all those losses felt great,” Magee said. “On Senior Day, you have to go out the right way, and we went out the right way.”
The win also helped ASU achieve bowl eligibility for the second time in as many seasons. Graham is now the third ASU coach to reach a bowl game in his first season.
While the Sun Devils are happy to reach a bowl game and will use the extra practices to prepare for the game and develop depth for next season, Graham feels simply reaching a bowl game is nothing to be celebrated as it should be something expected on a yearly basis.
“That’s something that has to be a minimum for our program every year,” Graham said. “I want our guys every season to experience a bowl.”
The Sun Devils will not play any home games until they kick off the 2013 season, but the 2012 season is not over as ASU still has two games left to play, including this week’s Territorial Cup against UA.
“The most important game of the year is coming up next week and then we’re going to get a bowl championship,” Graham said. “We’re not just going to go to a bowl, we’re going to win one.”
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