A disappointing season came to a familiar but disappointing end on Friday night, as Arizona State ended their regular season with a 47-38 loss to Cal.
It was the fourth straight defeat after a promising 6-2 start to the season in which ASU was in total control of the South division. The Sun Devils were already eliminated from division title contention due to Utah's earlier defeat at the hands of Colorado, but the Devils still had a lot to play for.
Unfortunately, this game played out in all-too-familiar fashion, as the Devils did just enough to lose despite being the superior team in terms of on-field talent.
The Devils opened the game uncharacteristically, running 10 times on an 11 play drive that ended in a Cameron Marshall touchdown, giving ASU a 7-3.
The Cal ground game dominated early, with Isi Sofele and Zach Maynard gashing the Devils' defense to big gain after big gain. Each scored a touchdown as Cal stormed ahead 17-7.
Cal then responded with 10 straight points as they continued to butcher the Devils' run defense. But the Devils were not down.
A 35-yard tocuhdown pass from Osweiler to Ross on a fourth and ten with 1:02 left gave ASU new life, and a fumble by Cal on the ensuing kickoff gave them hope. That turnover was turned into the go-ahead score soon after, as Osweiler found Kohl for a four-yard score.
With the momentum from their late first half surge behind them, ASU kept up the pressure on their opening drive of the final half. A pass interference penalty was followed by a 34-yard run by Marshall. A sack defused the drive, but Alex Garoutte was able to connect from 47-yards to extend ASU's lead to 31-27.
Undaunted, Cal answered back, this time through the air. Maynard fired off sharp pass after sharp pass and led Cal to touchdown by C.J. Anderson to cap a seven play, 77-yard drive that gave Cal the 34-31 lead.
With the building lifeless, the teams seemed to sleepwalk through the next few series before Maynard found Anderson behind the Devil defense on a scramble, and a 74-yard sprint later the Bears lead was extended to 41-31.
Undaunted, ASU showed signs of life, and they resided in the legs of Marshall. He ran four straight times for 40 yards including a 24-yard touchdown as ASU closed the gap to 41-38 as the third quarter ended.
On the critical drive to open the fourth quarter, it was most telling that Vontaze Burfict was on the bench, and it may have helped. After Cal drove down to get a first and goal, the defense showed some heart and forced a Cal field goal, which kept it a one score game at 44-38 with 9:08 left in the game.
Sadly, even ASU's workhorse wasn't above a costly mistake. Cameron Marshall fumbled on the next drive and it was recovered by Cal.
Cal was then able to run the ball effectively and kill over five minutes of clock as the drove down inside the ASU 15 yard line, and extended their lead to 47-38 on a short field goal.
The last gasp effort of the Devils and Erickson's tenure ended quietly with Osweiler's second interception of the night.