Herm Edwards heard all the naysayers about his hire at Arizona State. So did the rest of his football team.
All had a nice laugh Saturday night about those doom-and-gloom predictions while celebrating a surprisingly entertaining 16-13 upset of No. 15 Michigan State that gave the Pac-12 a badly needed marquee non-conference win in the process.
Not surprisingly, quarterback Manny Wilkins led the way offensively for ASU as he threw for 380 yards, a touchdown and an interception. While he was hit-or-miss with his downfield passing most of the night, he came up with some big plays down the stretch and was the team’s leading rusher on the night as well. Kyle Williams was his favorite target early but as the game wore on it was star wideout N'Keal Harry who started to gradually take over as the clock started to wind down and finished with 89 yards and a leaping touchdown catch.
Though it wasn’t an official stat, Harry also drew numerous pass interference penalties and was the focus of the Spartans defense from the opening kickoff.
The outcome spoiled the homecoming of Phoenix native Brian Lewerke, who was MSU’s only source of offense because they couldn’t really run the football at all. The quarterback finished with a solid 314 yards with a touchdown but threw an early interception in the end zone and didn’t get an opportunity to lead a game-winning drive like he did last week.
Mark Dantonio’s defense played fairly well all night but allowed 13 points in the fourth quarter and gave up a few big plays that led to ASU’s game-winning field goal at the gun. The loss is a big blow to a team that was a dark horse to make the College Football Playoff considering how many starters returned from last season’s 10-win team and the fact that a brutal Big Ten slate awaits over the coming months. The inability to finish will certainly be brought up on the long flight back to East Lansing as a season filled with such promise has so far fallen short after two lackluster performances in 2018.
If there’s one silver lining for the green and white, at least they’re not completely out of the hunt for hardware with a number of opportunities to get top 25 wins ahead but they’ll be in no position to do so if they don’t play better than they have been.
As for Edwards, the victory might just make his team the favorite in the suddenly wide-open Pac-12 South this year. The Sun Devils have a feisty defense with an active front-seven, a veteran quarterback who has knocked off his share of top 15 teams and a host of playmakers like Neal who are electrifying in space.
Suddenly all those laughing at ASU for making the outside the box hire of Edwards are now very much taking Arizona State seriously. As well they should after knocking off a team like Michigan State.