The ASU Sun Devils fell in Saturday's contest against the Illinois Fighting Illini 17-14. The two teams remained close for the entire game, but ASU's sloppy play caught up with them in the fourth quarter.
A back-and-forth first quarter saw both teams score and generate most of the night's offense. The Fighting Illini scored the game's first points on a one-yard touchdown by Jason Ford. The Sun Devils responded on the very next drive as Brock Osweiler connected on a 21-yard pass to Gerell Robinson. Meanwhile, Illinois knocked in a 20-yard field goal by Derek Demke to give themselves a 10-7 lead.
That margin would hold up until the fourth quarter until Osweiler ran in a 14-yard score. ASU led 14-7, but the Illini responded with a 16-yard touchdown to pull ahead 17-14.
After a series of punts by both sides, a late stand gave the ball back to the Sun Devils with 2:26 to play. Unfortunately, the ASU offense failed to convert and turned it over on downs to Illinois. With that, Illinois secured a 17-14 victory.
A series of errors cost ASU this game. For one (and as it always seems to be with ASU), the Sun Devils had eight penalties for 91 yards. The team lost several scoring opportunities due to penalties in Illini territory, and the team needs to fix these problems going forward if they want to contend for the Pac-12 South title.
Moreover, the offensive line did not provide much protection for Osweiler. The Illini got to Osweiler several times, forcing fumbles and negative yardage left and right. This never allowed the Sun Devils offense to get going (in much the same ways that the penalties didn't allow the Sun Devils offense to get going either), and as a result ASU ended up on the wrong end of a low-scoring affair.
This loss hurts for ASU, but the team can redeem itself with a big win next week. ASU faces USC at home next Saturday, and the Sun Devils will get a chance to show that they've addressed the flaws they showed in this game.