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Jayden Daniels, Arizona State Beat Florida State 20-14 in 2019 Sun Bowl

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2019

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - OCTOBER 19 : Jayden Daniels #5 of the Arizona State Sun Devils runs out of the pocket against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium on October 19, 2019 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images)
Chris Gardner/Getty Images

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.

     

Notable Stats

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:

CBS Sports @CBSSports

We've got big plays early in The Sun Bowl. https://t.co/UaA9sICRsX

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:

CBS Sports @CBSSports

Force the fumble and recover the ball, Merlin Robertson did it all for @ASUFootball. https://t.co/dGrhvrG4QZ

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:

CBS Sports @CBSSports

WE'VE GOT A TOUCHDOWN. @FSUFootball finds the end zone. https://t.co/QmJFPqSgRG

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:

CBS Sports @CBSSports

91 YARDS FOR @FSUFOOTBALL! Can't do it much better than this. https://t.co/d2qQNSCOkt

Brendan Sonnone of Noles247 and Curt Weiler of the Tallahassee Democrat provided some remarkable stats regarding Terry's big-play ability:

Brendan Sonnone @BSonnone

Tamorrion Terry has 17 career touchdowns. He's averaging 49 yards per touchdown reception. 49!!! Entered game with 53.75 yards per TD, leading NCAA. That's up to 57.8 yards per TD after the 91-yard reception.

Curt Weiler @CurtMWeiler

Tamorrion Terry already has five career catches of 70-plus yards, two more than any other #FSU player ever. How many will he have by the end of next season?

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:

Brendan Sonnone @BSonnone

Not playing this game/half for FSU: Akers (Draft) Laborn (Injury) Grant (N/A) Matthews (Injury) Harrison (portal) Helton (Injury) Young (Injury) Thompson (N/A) Adams (portal) FSU had 12 scholarship RBs/WRs entering the season (yikes). Three are available this half.

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:

CBS Sports @CBSSports

SUN DEVILS COMING UP BIG IN THE SUN BOWL. https://t.co/GFWQll07MT

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.