Sun Devil Stunner: Five Things We Learned From ASU Upset

PASADENA, CA — ASU’s season took a drastic shift for the better, upsetting #7 UCLA 38-23 at the Rose Bowl Saturday evening. With the win the Sun Devils improve to 3-2, 1-1 in Pac-12 while handing the Bruins (4-1, 1-1) their first loss.

Here are five things we learned from the win.

1. Statement Made…big credit to Todd Graham, Mike Norvell and the entire ASU coaching staff for circling the wagons this week and putting together a tremendous scheme. Graham’s defense did just enough to make super freshman quarterback Josh Rosen uncomfortable and slow stud running back Paul Perkins. Norvell’s late fourth and short call helped flip field position while ASU’s defense got a much-needed breather. Both men were under siege from skeptics after the first month of the season. Saturday proved these players still believe they have plenty to play for. Closing out a top 10 team on the road shows big-time moxie.

2. Safe at First…last week USC punched Graham’s team in the mouth and delivered the knockout blow jumping out to a 35-0 lead at halftime and never looked back. Saturday ASU was far from perfect before intermission but made plays on both sides of the ball and looked far more like the team Graham touted before the season, taking a 15-10 lead into the half. ASU held Paul Perkins to just 23 yards on 12 carries through the first two quarters and added two sacks and five tackles for loss.

3. Super Demario…”Baby Beast Mode” was solid, providing much-needed balance to the Devils’ offense. He didn’t score but accumulated 134 total yards (79 rushing, 55 receiving), including the clutch four-down conversion to help keep UCLA’s offense on the sideline with the game hanging in the balance. The Devils rushed for 192 yards as a team, UCLA only 62.

4. Magic Mike…Richard’s backfield buddy Mike Bercovici was one cool customer in front of 80,000 fans not far from where he grew up. He showed poise, patience and leadership when things looked to be going sideways. His two third-quarter scores (a 34-yard run and 11-yard strike to roommate D. J. Foster) proved enough cushion to help seal the biggest win since knocking off Notre Dame last November.

5. Clock Killers…the best way to slow down Rosen, Perkins and the rest of the Bruins’ deep, talented skill players was to keep them on the sideline. Mission accomplished. ASU held a 37:47-22:20 edge in time of possession and out-gained Jim Mora’s team 465-342. The “want to” the Devils showed on both sides of the ball proved key to pulling off the upset.