Arizona State wasn't super sharp on the road but got the win at Colorado on Thursday night. (US Presswire)
ARIZONA STATE WON: It wasn't a cakewalk early on like many expected as the Sun Devils hit the road for the first of back-to-back Thursday night appearances. The offense flashed some 'high octane' potential on some big plays but often stalled after the Buffs turned up the pressure on a few drives. Similarly the defense looked great at times, especially tackle Will Sutton and his fellow defensive linemen, but gave up some plays early they shouldn't have thanks to missed tackles or a blown coverage. In the first half alone, the team was penalized five times, had a PAT blocked and fumbled a kickoff that turned into points the other way. Todd Graham lit into his team at halftime for sloppy mistakes and that seemed to do the trick as Arizona State pulled away in the 2nd half with a sharper effort in all three phases of the game. The defense also turned things around by shutting out the Buffs after halftime and the offense finally came around as the team cruised to an easy win with a 31-0 run to end the game.
WHY ARIZONA STATE WON: Quarterback Taylor Kelly found his go-to guy this game in Marion Grice. The duo hooked up for three touchdowns, a number of which came on screen plays that saw the junior running back weave in and out of traffic all the way to the end zone. Kelly was efficient as a passer on other plays as well and tossed a beautiful 37-yard touchdown that dropped right over the shoulder of freshman D.J. Foster to put the team on top for good in the 3rd quarter. The offense didn't look like world-beaters but it was solid enough thanks to the steady hand of Kelly and big plays out of Grice.
WHEN ARIZONA STATE WON: Though the Sun Devils were ahead by a comfortable margin throughout most of the 2nd half after a 100-yard kickoff return by Rashad Ross, it didn't really feel like the game was won until Kelly hit Grice for a 20 yard touchdown with just over five minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter to extend the lead to 34-17. Neither team really did much after that point as Arizona State likely turned their attention to Oregon next week.
WHAT ARIZONA STATE WON: It wasn't the sharpest effort on national television but perhaps Todd Graham will take comfort in the fact that a good portion of the country was distracted by playoff baseball, an NFL game and the Vice Presidential debate to only check the box score. Arizona State is essentially No. 26 in the Coaches Poll and receiving enough votes in the AP that there's a strong possibility that they'll be ranked when the polls come out on Sunday. At this point the squad still controls their own destiny in the conference as they lead the Pac-12 South but will begin a tough four week stretch that has them playing three teams in the top 11.
WHAT COLORADO LOST: It was yet another loss for the Buffs but there were several positives for Jon Embree and his staff to take back and look at further, especially on defense. The team wasn't blown off the field and headed into the locker room at halftime down by just three with a fairly fired up crowd cheering them on after scoring 10 points in under a minute. The depth just isn't there for this team however and that showed as they just couldn't compete in the 2nd half and while quarterback Jordan Webb made some solid throws but lacked the consistency at the position that the team will need to be competitive going forward. The defense showed some fight in them and kept this game close but eventually the talent gap showed up late in the game. They've gotten better the past few games and though they're just baby steps, they're steps forward nevertheless.