Impact: It wasn't a fluke, ASU football's defense is for real

The Sun Devils intercepted the Utes four times and held them to 10 points

In last week’s win over the No. 12 Washington Huskies (6-1, 3-1) it was the ASU defense that made the victory possible. Fast forward to Saturday’s game against the Utah Utes (4-3, 1-3), the Sun Devils (4-3, 3-1) were again defensively oriented, a performance that the ASU fans have not seen for the majority of the season.

A win over the Huskies was not enough to make the Sun Devils favorites against the Utes. Not to mention, the return of Utah starting sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley did not help ASU’s case.

However, the Sun Devils methodically beat down the Utes with forceful play from the front seven and lock down coverage from the defensive backs.

Huntley was intercepted four times, one of which was taken back to the end zone by junior devil backer Jay Jay Wilson. 

That is right, it is the same Wilson that was pegged as the week one starting tight end for the Sun Devils. 

Another first came for redshirt freshman cornerback Chase Lucas, who caught his first interception of his collegiate career.

The list goes on, but any way you look at it, this ASU team has evolved. This was formally a team that would strike at opposing squads with efficient quarterback play and punishing short-yard runs.

Now what was the expected liability has become the cornerstone of this 2017-18 team. A defense that was one of the worst in the country on third down held UW and Utah to a combined 6-24.

A unit that had gone the whole season not allowing fewer than 30 points per game, just held a talented Utah and UW offense to a combined 17.

With preparation for next week’s game versus the No. 21 USC Trojans beginning, the Sun Devils are in control of their own destiny in the Pac-12 South, and it goes without saying that they are starting to look like the favorites. 

Wildcats purr past Bears in double overtime

The Arizona Wildcats (5-2, 3-1) snuck past the University of California Bears (4-4, 1-4) in double overtime 45-44. 

With football fans across the state of Arizona likely paying a great deal of attention to ASU, the Wildcats have quietly won their last three games. Not to mention they have scored 45 or more in each of their last three.

At the helm of Saturday’s victory over the Bears was sophomore quarterback Khalil Tate. Yes, he is listed at quarterback, but he does so much more. 

Against Cal, Tate had a yawn-worthy 166 passing yards and two passing touchdowns. However, glancing over the rest of the stat sheet you will see Tate listed as the Wildcats leading rusher with 137 rushing yards and a touchdown. 

As a whole, UA accumulated 345 rushing yards and four scores on the ground. That number may shock some people, but if you have watched Wildcat football over the last three weeks you are not impressed.

UA rushed for over 410 yards in each of its previous two games, not to mention at least four rushing scores in those games as well.

That territorial cup game at the end of the season is heating up to be the best one in recent years.

If you can’t beat 'em … flip them off?

As expected, the Tennessee Volunteers (3-4, 0-4) were blown out 45-7 by the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide (8-0, 5-0). 

Toward the end of the third quarter, the old-fashioned whooping seemed to get to redshirt junior defensive back Rashaan Gaulden.

The Volunteers were losing 28-0 at the time, when they finally intercepted Alabama’s sophomore quarterback Jalen Hurts and took the turnover 97 yards for a touchdown. 

However, it did not end there. 

Gaulden, who was blocking on the interception return, made his way into the end zone after his teammate scored and volunteered two not-so-friendly fingers to Crimson Tide fans.

Gaulden’s frustration was clear, but after the game ended and he cooled down, he apologized for his actions. 

“I would like to issue an apology to the University of Tennessee and the University of Alabama for my gesture after the pick-six by (Daniel) Bituli,” Gaulden said to NBC Sports. “That remark that I showed was very out of character. That’s not how my parents raised me. That’s not how a leader of the team should show their emotions on the field."

Stay tuned

ASU football returns home for arguably its most important game of the season. A contest against the No. 21 USC Trojans slated for Saturday evening is destined to decide the foreseeable fate of the Pac-12 South.


Reach the reporter at atotri@asu.edu or follow @Anthony_Totri on Twitter.   

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