By Steven Lieberman
The Arizona State Sun Devils will be playing in their first Pac-12 Championship, game as they defeated UCLA at the Rose Bowl on Saturday, 38-33.
The Sun Devils got off to a quick start, running the ball six times for 67 yards on their first possession. QB Taylor Kelly scored the first touchdown in three minutes as he ran the ball in from the three-yard line to give his team a 7-0 advantage.
On the Bruins first possession, they outdid the Sun Devils as QB Brett Hundley tossed a 42-yard bomb to Devin Lucien on the team's first play to tie the score after a great kickoff return put them at midfield. The drive lasted only 16 seconds.
After a Bruins field goal put them up by three, the Sun Devils drove 84 yards to set up D.J. Foster's three-yard touchdown run to give them the lead. Then the Sun Devils got a huge momentum swing on the very next drive when linebacker Carl Bradford intercepted Hundley's pass and returned it 19 yards for another touchdown.
The Sun Devils had an opportunity late in the second quarter to put things away. Backup QB Michael Eubank ran a QB sneak from the one-yard line on fourth-and-goal, giving them a 28-10 lead.
The Sun Devils would then run a quick two-minute drill at the end of the first half with Kelly finding Jaelen Strong for an 18-yard touchdown with five seconds remaining. They held an impressive lead over the Bruins, 35-3, going into halftime.
The Bruins needed to play catch-up and that's exactly what they attempted to do when freshman Myles Jack scored a three-yard touchdown after they drove the ball 79 yards on the opening drive to start the second half.
A few minutes later, the Bruins got the break they needed when they got the ball back at the 15-yard line after an errant punt by Alex Garoutte. Paul Perkins would then run it in for a one-yard touchdown making it a one possession game.
After a Zane Gonzalez field goal made it 38-27 for the Sun Devils, the Bruins came back and scored a touchdown early in the fourth quarter when Hundley connected with Shaquelle Evans on a 27-yard pass. A missed two-point conversion meant that the Sun Devils still had the lead by five points.
But the Bruins defense kept making stops and gave the offense another chance to take the lead, but the offense stalled and the Bruins had to settle for a field goal. After Ka'imi Fairburn missed the 38-yard attempt, the Bruins had one more chance to come back late in the fourth quarter, but the Sun Devils held their ground and sealed the deal.
The epic victory for the Sun Devils officially locks them into the Pac-12 South title game where they will likely face Stanford in the conference championship game. It was a banner day for them since it is the first time in school history that they have captured the Pac-12 South.
This is the third loss for the Bruins, who will have to prove themselves once again on Saturday as they face cross-town rival USC.