Rudy Burgess scores the game-winning touchdown in the 2004 Sun Bowl. (Photo: ASU)
The 2004 Sun Bowl was a transformative moment in Sun Devil football history. #21 Arizona State was 8-3 on the season after an impressive senior campaign by quarterback Andrew Walter.
Unfortunately, Walter suffered a separated shoulder in ASU's Territorial Cup loss to the Arizona Wildcats, forcing sophomore Sam Keller into action for the postseason bowl game against the Purdue Boilermakers. Starting for the first time in his career, Keller didn't blink.
The scene: New Year's Eve, 2004 in El Paso, Texas. Purdue is 7-4 on the season, led under center by a quarterback named Kyle Orton. Two prolific offenses meet for what should be a high-scoring affair on the US-Mexico border.
ASU head coach Dirk Koetter didn't shy away from the gunslinger approach, giving Keller the freedom to attempt 45 passes.
With only 1:14 left in the fourth quarter, the Sun Devils found themselves down 23-20 with the ball on their own 20-yard line. What happened next went down in Sun Devil lore for all eternity.
Keller led an efficient, fast-paced drive, completing four passes in succession to Moey Mutz, Terry Richardson, Derek Hagan and Rudy Burgess. Each completion stopped the clock, as Mutz, Richardson and Hagan all succeeded in getting out of bounds after the catch.
But that's enough talk -- lets go ahead and watch that legendary drive together.
In the end, Keller won Sun Bowl MVP for his heroics, which included a 370-yard aerial effort and three touchdown passes. ASU finished 19th overall in the AP Poll, setting the stage for what was supposed to be a promising 2005 campaign with Keller at the helm.
Tomorrow, we look into a season-defining schedule change that unexpectedly brought the LSU Tigers out to Tempe in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. You won't want to miss that.