NCAA Football

No. 11 Arizona eyes Pac-12 championship after beating No. 13 ASU

The Wildcats clinched the Pac-12 South and a rematch with Oregon following a 42-35 victory over the ASU Sun Devils. Despite keeping it close throughout the game, ASU drops to 9-3 while Arizona’s 10-2 record trails only one Pac-12 team that it beat earlier this season.

Arizona’s player of the game was without a doubt Nick Wilson who ground out 178 yards on 24 carries as well as three touchdowns. Oddly enough, the Wildcats totaled only 125 yards on the ground as a team thanks to a loss of 53 yards on 13 attempts by players not named Wilson. Anu Solomon had a respectable showing as well, throwing for 208 yards with a 71% completion rate and two touchdown passes to Samajie Grant.

ASU had a more balanced showing in the run game with three players averaging at least five yards per carry but racked up only 113 yards with no touchdowns. The Sun Devils did have the edge in the passing game with Taylor Kelly and Mike Bercovici throwing two touchdowns each for a total of 267 yards. Head Coach Todd Graham’s decision to switch in Bercovici in the third quarter backfired somewhat as Bercovici threw a pick that resulted in an Arizona touchdown. Four straight incompletions on the final ASU drive would seal the deal late in the fourth quarter.

The day was won by a Wildcats team that was ferocious in capitalizing on its opponent’s mistakes. A blocked punt, recovered fumble and fourth quarter pick all resulted in touchdowns against an ASU defense that struggled throughout the game. This was particularly evident in the first quarter when Grant caught a short slant, then stretched the play to a 69 yard touchdown following some excellent blocking by Arizona’s receivers.

ASU will undoubtedly be disappointed following a missed opportunity to seize a division title and prove its mettle in its annual rivalry game but can still expect a noteworthy bowl game to wrap up their season.

Arizona will be headed into Levi’s Stadium for a chance to repeat the upset it pulled off in Week 6 against No. 2 Oregon. Allowing for a significant level of chaos in the games by the top 10 teams this weekend, they may even manage to sneak into the playoff bracket.

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