Osweiler leads No. 22 ASU over Utah, 35-14Posted: Updated:
SALT LAKE CITY -- Arizona State was forcing turnovers so quickly in the second half, trainers didn't even have time to get the blood off Brock Osweiler's jersey.
"They were cleaning it one second and the next second it was, 'Hey, you got to go,'" the Sun Devils' 6-foot-8 quarterback said. "But that's a credit to our defense. They were staying focused, playing with a lot of intensity, creating turnovers."
Three Utah turnovers on consecutive possessions late in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth helped turn a close game into 35-14 victory for No. 22 Arizona State.
When it was over, the Utes (2-3, 0-3) had committed five turnovers for the second straight game -- and the result wasn't much different than last week's 31-14 loss to Washington.
"The wheels came off," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham. "We'll start winning games when we stop turning the ball over. That's the bottom line. Until that happens it's going to be a long road."
Osweiler finished 25 of 41 for 325 yards and three touchdowns for Arizona State (5-1, 3-0 Pac-12). It was the third 300-yard game of his career.
Jon Hays threw three interceptions in his first major-college start in place of injured Jordan Wynn.
For a while, the junior college transfer was holding his own.
Utah had taken a 14-10 lead with 10:32 left in the third quarter on Hays' 2-yard TD pass to tight end Dallin Rogers.
Arizona State then scored 18 straight points in less than four minutes to take a 28-14 lead.
Alex Garoutte's 35-yard field goal cut the gap to 1 with 5 minutes left in the third.
Then Shelly Lyons forced a John White fumble. Five plays later, Osweiler tossed a 14-yard TD pass to Mike Willie, and added a 2-point conversion to Aaron Pflugrad, for a 21-14 lead.
Clint Floyd then intercepted Hays on Utah's next play from scrimmage. Cameron Marshall scored on a 4-yard run 68 seconds later.
The Sun Devils turned Utah's fifth turnover of the game into another seven points, with Osweiler's 12-yard TD pass to Willie capping a 10-play drive set up by Reggie Dunn's fumble with 14:12 left to play.
Floyd forced that turnover also.
"It's big for us," Floyd said of the road win, only the fourth in their last 13 trips. "We knew the second half was our half."
Willie had only 10 catches for 136 yards the first five games. He nearly matched that Saturday with seven for 98 yards. Gerell Robinson had seven for for 101.
"That was our game plan," Osweiler said of using Willie and Robinson more. "We have tremendous wide receivers on the outside ... and we really haven't gotten the guys the football this year. They deserve their touches."
It helped that Utah was playing an eight-man front, and a lot of man-to-man.
"If they want to man (Willie) up or any of our receivers, we'll take our chances," Osweiler said.
At the beginning of the season, many thought the Pac-12 South would be a three-team race between USC, Arizona State and Utah, a new member in the conference.
Now everything is lined up for Sun Devils to claim the South. They already have big wins over the Trojans and now Utah.
Though they play at Oregon next week, they should be favored in the rest of their games _ Colorado, UCLA, Washington State, Arizona and California. ASU does not play Stanford or Washington, which entered the weekend atop the North division standings.
Osweiler had done everything but win on the road against a tough defense. He turned the ball over three times in a road loss to Illinois, and entered Saturday's game with six interceptions on the season.
He played mistake-free ball Saturday in a game dominated by defense early.
ASU defensive coordinator Craig Bray was simply glad he had enough players to field his various units.
The Sun Devils lost cornerback Omar Bolden in the spring, linebacker Brandon Magee in the fall and were without defensive end Junior Onyeali because of a knee injury. On Saturday starting cornerback Osahon Irabor suffered back spasms early.
Bray filled the holes.
"They're a bunch of resilent guys," Bray said. "We actually looked pretty ugly at times, but we're coming up with turnovers."
Bray took the blame for Utah's first touchdown, a 30-yard run by White with 10:01 left in the first quarter.
"We got punched in the mouth because I made a bad call," Bray said.
After that, the Utes would score just once more, giving ASU eight straight wins against Utah, which is learning the Pac-12 is a lot tougher than the Mountain West.
Osweiler showed he and the team could put together a solid outing on the road against a tough defense.
"I think we passed with flying colors," he said. "Obviously there are things we'll do better. But the biggest thing is we just won a football game on the road against a very good quality opponent. ... It means a lot to this team. We need to learn how to do this week in and week out."