(Tempe, AZ) The Sun Devils came into tonight’s game with a head of steam after easily disposing of Southern Utah 41-14 in the season opener.
Tonight’s game on paper once again had a huge point spread at -34 points. Arizona began legal sports betting this week on September 9th, so it most certainly had a lot of “action” placed on the game.
Devils had their reserves in for the most of the second half last week with the large point margin. That will pay dividends later in the season.
Arizona State took the opening kick off and marched down the field but quarterback Jayden Daniels was intercepted in the end zone.
On the Rebels first possession, they methodically moved the football down the field with the help of two ASU penalties.
The drive stalled at the eleven yard line, where UNLV’s Daniel Gutierrez knocked down a twenty eight yard field goal.
That drive took 7:40 off the clock in the opening quarter. Rebels game plan was to keep the ball out of the hands of Daniels and the Sun Devil offense. UNLV 3-0 with 4:40 left in the first quarter.
The first quarter ended as the Devils had first and goal at the UNLV five years line.
Three plays into the second quarter, Daniels found Johnny Wilson in the back of the end zone with their first score. ASU 7-3 at the 13:42 mark. The sun Devils went 0-1 in the red zone in the first quarter.
Back came UNLV with a ten play seventy five yard drive that took 4:36 off the clock and the go ahead touchdown on a four yard quarterback keeper by Doug Brumfield. UNLV 10-7 with 8:46 left till halftime.
Daniyel Ngata sliced through the Rebel front line and scored off tackle from thirteen yards out to put ASU back up 14-10.
Devils had good balance and ball control at they ran 5:39 off the clock with a eleven play drive covering sixty two yards.
The issue in the first half wasn’t the Sun Devil offense, but rather the lack of aggressive defense that allowed UNLV two long drives resulting in points.
Daniels took the offense down the field with little time remaining in the half to the UNLV thirty, but instead of attempting a forty seven yard field goal they went for it on fourth down and the result was a sack as the half ended.
UNLV had a balanced attack with a modest 76 yards rushing to go along with 60 yards through the air.
Sun Devils countered with a run heavy attack for 128 yards rushing led by Daniels with 80 yards of the 128 total run yardage.
ASU stopped the Runnin Rebels on their opening drive of the second half after UNLV had won the coin toss and differed to the second half.
From there on it was for the better part of the third quarter, both tams would get a couple of first downs and then punt.
Finally at the four and a half minute mark, the Devils defense stopped Nevada-Las Vegas at their own twenty yard line and had a seventeen yard run back on the punt return, ASU has great field position to begin the drive at the Rebel thirty seven yard line.
Daniels took it around the right end and raced up the sidelines for twenty two yards to the UNLV eleven yard line.
Three plays later, Rachaad White ran it in from yards out to culminate a six play drive and finally Arizona State was up by double digits 21-10 worth :45 left in the quarter.
On the next Rebel possession, the ASU defense you could tell had turned it up a notch with a key pass breakup by cornerback Chase Lucas followed by a sack of Rogers by Darien Butler and freshman B.J. Green to force a punt.
The offense woke up in the fourth quarter with a White one yard run off a fifty two yard drive to extend the lead 27-10, Zendejas missed the point after attempt.
After taking most of the previous quarter off offensively, ASU scored on back to back possessions.
Daniels to LV Bunkley-Shelton on a wide open hitch route for a thirty three yard strike and the Devils were now up 34-10 with 8:45 left in the game.
Devils defense turned it up in the second half and at the 7;20 mark in the fourth quarter, the Runnin Rebels had but six total yards.
A seven play forty yard drive ended up with a Zendejas twenty two yard field goal to bring the Devils’ lead to 38-10 with 3:03 left. ASU now had scored on three consecutive possessions.
The Sun Devils offense dominated the stats and the scoreboard in the fourth quarter, while the defense showed us they are every bit as good as advertised.
Total yards was no contest as ASU led 462-155 as was the final score 37-10.
Daniels and Company scored in five of six times in the red zone, but there were big stretches where they were ineffective against a far less talented UNLV squad.
There are teams all across the nation that tend to play down to their competition, thinking they can turn on the “switch” at will. Thats a dangerous mindset because allowing a team to hang around when they should be getting blown out only sets you up for disaster.
Arizona State will hopefully learn that before it bites them with an upset loss. In this game, Sparky was never in danger of losing, but still lacked the killer instinct in the first half that will be needed come playing PAC-12 opponents.
Next up will be Arizona State’s first real test as they travel to Provo Utah to play the BYU at their house. Tonight, the Cougars beat in-state rival Utah 26-17 to snap a seven game losing streak to the Utes.
BYU beat Arizona in Las Vegas last week 24-16 and now stand at 2-0 matching the Devils’ record.
Tonight’s attendance on the twentieth anniversary of the 9-11 attacks drew 42,918.