When a season ends in a Rose Bowl victory, it's often easy to lose sight of the preceding moments that led up to such a defining moment.
Such is the case with Arizona State's 1986 season. Every Sun Devil worth their pitchfork knows the story of how Jeff Van Raaphorst and company defeated mighty Michigan in Pasadena, but the story of how they clinched that berth is an exciting and forgotten--if one-sided--tale.
On November 8th, Arizona State was ranked No. 5 in the nation thanks to a 7-0-1 start to the year. They got a major boost earlier in the day when Stanford upset UCLA. The door was open to the school's first Pac-10 title and Rose Bowl trip. The only things in the way were the Golden Bears of Cal. Thankfully for Sun Devil Nation, Cal was a paltry 1-7.
An even omen for ASU? Wide receiver Bruce Hill.
Van Raaphorst wasted little time in carving up the Bears. He found tight end Jeff Gallimore for the game's first touchdown early in the first quarter, then hit Hill for a score to put ASU up 14-0. Running back Channing Williams had a short touchdown run to open the second quarter, before Hill hauled in a 62-yard bomb to ensure the route was on just minutes before the half.
But Hill was not done. Oh, no he wasn't.
The speedy New Jersey native took the second half kickoff, cut to the sideline and raced 94-yards for the first ASU kick return touchdown since the legendary Mike Haynes in 1974. Not a bad day when you can describe your performance with the terms "Rose Bowl clinching" and "first since Mike Haynes".
Safely up 35-0, the Sun Devils pulled their starters, but the scoring did not stop.
Van Raaphorst's backup, Dan Ford, tossed a touchdown to Stein Koss, and Ford later had a rushing score to put the exclamation mark the Sun Devils' first ever Pac-10 title.