The Arizona State Sun Devils will be heading to their first Pac-12 Championship, as they took down the UCLA Bruins on Saturday by a score of 38-33.
It was a very quick start for the Sun Devils, who ran the ball six times for 67 yards on their first drive. Quarterback Taylor Kelly ran the ball in from three yards out to put his team up 7-0 less than three minutes into the game.
If that was fast, the Bruins scored at warp speed. A huge kickoff return put UCLA near midfield, and Brett Hundley threw a 42-yard bomb to Devin Lucien on the team's first play to tie things up. The drive lasted a grant total of 16 seconds.
After a Bruins field goal put them up three, the Sun Devils drove 84 yards down the field with D.J. Foster running in for another three-yard touchdown to give Arizona State the lead. The Sun Devils got a huge momentum swing on the very next drive, when Hundley threw right to Sun Devils linebacker Carl Bradford who returned the interception 19 yards for another touchdown.
Late into the second quarter, the Sun Devils had a chance to put things away early. On 4th-and-goal with one yard to go, Arizona State sent out backup quarterback Michael Eubank to go for it, and he snuck up the middle to put them up 28-10.
As if that wasn't enough, Arizona State ran a quick two-minute drill at the end of the half with Kelly finding Jaelen Strong for an 18-yard touchdown with just five seconds remaining. The Sun Devils went into halftime with an impressive 35-13 lead.
The opening drive for the Bruins in the second half was exactly what they needed. They drove the ball 79 yards down the field and ended the drive with a three-yard touchdown from the thrilling freshman Myles Jack. Still, the Bruins were down 15 points, and they had a lot of work to do.
A few minutes later, the Bruins got a big break.
A botched punt by Alex Garoutte gave the Bruins the ball back at the 15-yard line. A few plays later, Paul Perkins ran it in for a one-yard touchdown, and just like that, it was a one-possession game.
After a Zane Gonzalez field goal made it 38-27 for Arizona State, the Bruins came back once again and scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter. This one went 27 yards on a Hundley pass to Shaquelle Evans, but a missed two-point conversion meant that the Bruins were still down five.
But the Bruins defense kept making stops and gave the offense another chance to take the lead or at the very least make things closer. The offense stalled and had to settle for a field goal, but Ka'imi Fairbairn missed the 38-yard attempt.
The Bruins had another chance to come back late in the game, but the Sun Devils held together and sealed the massive victory.
The big win for the Sun Devils officially makes them a lock for the Pac-12 South title, meaning they will likely be playing Stanford in the conference championship game. It's the first time in school history that they've won the Pac-12 South, and it was an incredibly big day for the program.
Meanwhile, the Bruins lost their third game, but they should be able to stay in the Top 25 of the BCS rankings. They will have to prove themselves once again next week, as they have a very big game against the USC Trojans.
Brett Hundley: C+
A rough start certainly hurt Hundley's grade, but a strong finish helped him out quite a bit.
In the first half, Hundley threw an interception and missed some easy throws. However, he still finished with a respectable game, completing 18 of his 28 passes for 253 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.
Still, Hundley couldn't help his team pull out a win, and the Bruins will be looking to bounce back next week.
Myles Jack: B+
You couldn't really ask for more from Jack in this one, especially considering he's just a freshman who normally plays linebacker.
Jack finished with 86 yards and a touchdown on just 16 carries, including a very impressive 37-yard run. He is a natural runner out of the backfield, and his high school background at the position certainly pays off in that regard.
Still, other than that big run, Jack didn't make a ton of explosive plays, but he still played a very good game. While it is unclear whether Jack will continue to be a go-to running back over the next few seasons, it's certainly quite fun watching him right now.
Arizona State Grades
Taylor Kelly: A
It's really hard to ask for much more from Kelly in this one. He played a great game against a very tough opponent, making big plays both through the air and on the ground.
Kelly completed 20 of his 27 passes for 226 yards and a touchdown, while also adding another 97 yards and a score on the ground. His dual-threat ability made him a tough player to deal with, and he did a great job running the read option while keeping Anthony Barr from making a big impact on the game.
While he's had some really good games, it's unlikely that Kelly will ever forget this one, simply due to the importance of the game itself.
Marion Grice: A-
Grice is one of the most explosive and versatile players in the country, and he did much of the same in this big game.
The senior running back ran for 96 yards on 18 carries, averaging 5.3 yards per attempt. He also added another 72 receiving yards on seven receptions in what was a very impressive game.
Although Grice didn't score, he still made plays in the running and passing games. His versatility makes him a very interesting NFL prospect, and he's hoping this game will help boost his draft stock.