Michigan State vs. Arizona State score: Herm Edwards-led Sun Devils pull off stunning upset
It only took two games for Edwards to knock off a top 25-team
We're only two weeks into the Herm Edwards experiment, and we've got a long way to go before we can reach a definitive conclusion. But the early results? Well, the early results are quite promising.
Arizona State came back from a 13-3 deficit following three quarters to beat No. 15 Michigan State 16-13 on Saturday night in Tempe. Edwards is -- again -- only two weeks into his Arizona State tenure, and he's already picked up a win against a ranked team.
Here are four things to know about Arizona State's win over the Spartans.
1. Herm remembers how to manage late-game situations. When Arizona State hired Edwards, it had been over nine years since he coached a football team. He'd been working in television, but as he was quick to inform anybody who asked him, he never stopped coaching, even while residing in TV land. And it showed on Saturday night, as his strategy and clock management skills were not rusty. The Sun Devils had a first-and-goal with 2 minutes left and Michigan State was out of timeouts. If Arizona State scored a touchdown (and Michigan State may have let it), the Spartans would have gotten the ball back with a chance to tie the game. So Edwards decided to kneel, milk the clock and then attempt a game-winning field goal. It's not exactly an earth-shattering strategy, but I've seen plenty of college football coaches mess up similar situations.
He also took things a step further by instructing his team when to snap the ball to make sure it could run the clock all the way down; not an amazing trick of the mind, but, again, I've seen plenty of coaches mess it up before. Hello, Les Miles. Anyway, Edwards had a plan, executed it perfectly and he was rewarded with a game-winning 28-yard field goal from Brandon Ruiz as time expired.
2. Defense led Arizona State. A common occurrence in Arizona State games during recent years is seeing its offense put up a bunch of points while watching its defense allow even more. That's not the case with this Arizona State team to this point. After racking up a national-best nine sacks last week, Arizona State only got two more tonight. But it had five tackles for loss, an interception, four passes broken up and a forced fumble. The Sun Devils also took a page out of Michigan State's playbook and shut down the Spartans rushing attack. Michigan State averaged only 2.9 yards per carry on the evening. Of course, Arizona State only averaged 1.5 yards per carry itself. If you're a fan of gap control and run defense, this game was heaven.
3. Arizona State owns the Big Ten in Tempe. Following this win over Michigan State, the Sun Devils improved to 10-0 all-time against Big Ten teams in Tempe. So if you're an athletic director at a Big Ten school and Arizona State's calling you to schedule a football game, maybe think twice about answering the phone.
4. This loss hurts Michigan State, but it's not a red flag. In many ways, Michigan State played better in this game than it did in its win against Utah State last week. Its offensive line did a much better job in pass protection (if not opening up rushing lanes), and the defensive line was much stronger as well. It just traveled across the country to play an Arizona State team that suddenly looks like a real threat in the Pac-12 South and lost on a last-second field goal.
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