The Arizona State Sun Devils secured their first bowl win since the 2014 season with a 20-14 victory over the Florida State Seminoles in the 2019 Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas, on Tuesday.
ASU finished with an 8-5 record by virtue of the win, marking the first time it finished with at least eight wins in a season since 2014. Meanwhile, the Seminoles dropped to 6-7, giving them a losing record in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1973-76.
Both teams were without some of their top offensive weapons Tuesday, as Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin and wide receiver Brandon Aiyuk sat out to prepare for the NFL draft, while running back Cam Akers did the same for FSU.
With so much offensive talent missing, defense took center stage, as the Sun Devils finished with just 282 yards of total offense and 13 first downs, while the Seminoles turned the ball over six times.
James Blackman, QB, FSU: 14-of-26 for 244 YDS, 1 TD, 4 INT
Deonte Sheffield, RB, FSU: 18 CAR for 87 YDS; 1 REC for 1 YD
Tamorrion Terry, WR, FSU: 9 REC for 165 YDS, 1 TD; 3 CAR for 18 YDS
Jayden Daniels, QB, ASU: 12-of-28 for 195 YDS, 0 TD, 0 INT; 12 CAR for 36 YDS
Demetrious Flowers, RB, ASU: 11 CAR for 31 YDS
Kyle Williams, WR, ASU: 2 REC for 76 YDS; 6 CAR for 12 YDS
Blackman's Miscues Sink FSU, Squander Strong Defensive Effort
Much-maligned sophomore quarterback James Blackman may have sealed his fate Tuesday with four interceptions and one lost fumble in a losing effort against Arizona State.
The Seminoles didn't score a single point during the first half and trailed 9-0 at the break largely because of Blackman's inability to protect the football.
FSU was gifted with great field position on its first drive when Arizona State lost a fumble on the first offensive play of the game, but Blackman was picked off in the end zone:
After getting a field goal blocked on its second drive of the game, Florida State turned the ball over again on the third drive when Blackman lost a fumble:
Following a miserable opening half for the FSU offense, it looked as though the Seminoles were turning things around in the second half. They started with an 11-play, 91-yard drive that culminated in a three-yard touchdown run by Ontaria Wilson:
Florida State began its next drive on its own 9-yard line and scored once again, only needing one play this time.
Blackman overcame his struggles to drop a perfect deep pass to wide receiver Tamorrion Terry, who ran it the rest of the way for a 91-yard touchdown:
Brendan Sonnone of Noles247 and Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat provided some remarkable stats regarding Terry's big-play ability:
Terry has already announced that he will return to Florida State in 2020, and with another strong season, he has a legitimate chance to be a first-round pick in 2021.
Much was made of how the absences of Benjamin and Aiyuk would impact the ASU offense, but Sonnone pointed out that Blackman didn't have much to work with Tuesday beyond Terry:
That manifested itself in the fourth quarter when Blackman, while nursing a 14-12 lead, had a miscommunication with his receiver.
The result was an interception by Willie Harts, who returned it 25 yards for the go-ahead touchdown:
In a fitting end to the game for Florida State, the next three drives all ended in disaster, as the Seminoles turned the ball over on downs, Blackman was intercepted for a fourth time and Terry lost a fumble.
All of that allowed Arizona State to come out on top despite getting out-gained significantly and not scoring an offensive touchdown.
While the result was a disappointing one for FSU, there may be brighter days ahead with Mike Norvell taking over as the new head coach.