This past summer, Arizona State head coach Todd Graham told the media that this year’s Sun Devil’s team was the best he had ever coached and developed.
He’s probably got a good case to make after watching his No. 12 ASU team move to 10-2 on the season by crushing rival Arizona, 58-21, on Saturday night in Tempe.
The Sun Devils jumped out to a 27-0 lead on the Wildcats (7-5) and, except for a brief span early in the third quarter, the outcome was never in doubt from that point on.
Taylor Kelly passed for 274 yards and two touchdowns and D.J. Foster rushed for 124 yards and two touchdowns to lead ASU. Receiver Jaelen Strong had a game-high 142 receiving yards and moved his season totals to 69 catches for 1,067 and seven scores, making him a strong candidate for Pac-12 Newcomer of the Year.
Arizona quarterback B.J. Denker struggled against ASU, throwing three interceptions while completing just 50 percent of his passes. He did have 87 rushing yards, adding to tailback Ka’Deem Carey’s 157 yards on 32 carries, the tailback’s 15th-straight 100-yard game.
But ASU was too much for Arizona tonight. For all the talk of Oregon and Stanford at the start of the year, UCLA in the middle and USC toward the end, it is ASU who might be the hottest team in the league right now and Graham who might be its Coach of the Year.
And we’ll know just how good this team is when it hosts No. 8 Stanford in next weekend’s Pac-12 title game.
Navy has seen one of its most productive players on the defensive side of the ball play for perhaps the final time this season.
Kwazel Bertrand sustained a broken ankle in the win over Air Force last Saturday, head coach Ken Niumatalolo confirmed earlier this week. As a result, the defensive back will very likely miss the remainder of the 2015 season.
And, because he is a senior and has no other eligibility avenues to pursue, it would effectively end his collegiate career as well.
“I feel terrible for Kwazel. It’s really unfortunate any time a senior goes down with a season-ending injury,” Niumatalolo said. “Kwazel has been a really good player for us and we’re going to miss his presence out on the field.”
Bertrand started 27 games over the past three-plus seasons, including all four in 2015.
You know how I know we’re gradually creeping up on the end of another regular season? Watch lists are being whittled.
The first major honor to do so is the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, which is given out annually to the best quarterback who is a college senior or fourth-year junior. The preseason watch list was 30 quarterbacks strong; the newest list has been cut in half to 15.
The most recent list includes one of the top Heisman contenders (TCU’s Trevone Boykin) and the top two nationally in passing yards (Bowling Green’s Matt Johnson, Western Kentucky’s Brandon Doughty), as well as a quarterback who’s closing in on the all-time FBS record for rushing touchdowns (Navy’s Keenan Reynolds).
The Pac-12 leads all conferences with three watch listers, followed by two each from the AAC, ACC and Big Ten. The SEC has as many players (one, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott) as the FCS (North Dakota State’s Carson Wentz).
Last year’s winner was Marcus Mariota of Oregon.
Trevone Boykin, TCU
Jacoby Brissett, NC State
Connor Cook, Michigan State
Brandon Doughty, WKU
Everett Golson, Florida State
Kevin Hogan, Stanford
Matt Johnson, Bowling Green
Cody Kessler, USC
Paxton Lynch, Memphis
Dak Prescott, Mississippi State
Keenan Reynolds, Navy
Nate Sudfeld, Indiana
Carson Wentz, N. Dakota State
Marquise Williams, North Carolina
Travis Wilson, Utah