This is the third installment of our imaginary series pitting the ASU Sun Devils against their real-life opponents. Instead of on the gridiron, we play it out on NCAA 13.
The Sun Devils lost on a last-second field goal by the Missouri Tigers, in the process losing their first game of the season. The final score was 10-9 in what was ultimately a grueling defensive battle of attrition.
Mizzou came onto the field wearing menacing all-black uniforms, perhaps looking for payback against a team that put a blackout knockout on the Tigers in 2011.
Missouri won the toss, and the Devils received the ball to start the game. The ball went out the back of the end zone, and ASU came out to the 25-yard line.
The first drive was all Cameron Marshall. The Devils were methodical with the ball, electing not to air it out but to focus on wearing down the Tigers front seven. Marshall ran the ball six times, picking up 25 yards. Todd Graham elected to kick a 51-yard field goal, which went off the bottom crossbar and gave Mizzou excellent field position.
The stout ASU defense came up big against James Franklin, forcing a punt that was ruled a touchback. After the first, ASU and Missouri stood at 0-0.
After another long drive with Cameron Marshall picking up yardage and Taylor Kelly and Michael Eubank commanding the offense, Alex Garoutte came onto the field. This time, he made a 29-yard field goal to give the Devils their first lead of the game.
With just moments to go, Missouri delivered a perfect punt to pin the Devils at their own 1-yard line. After running the ball out to safe territory, Graham allowed the clock to run out, showing restraint and an acumen for making tough decisions.
Halftime: ASU 3, Missouri 0.
In the third, ASU somehow forced another Missouri punt, but Taylor Kelly sputtered in the red zone. Once again, Alex Garoutte was called out to make a big field goal. 41-yards out, count it! 6-0 Devils. (Man, there's a lot of low scores in these simulations, huh?)
The Devils struggled at times with misdirection, but had a strong nose for the option, sniffing out Franklin and driving the Tigers back on key downs. Franklin tends to tuck and run once the play begins to break down, and the linebackers were busy taking him down at the line of scrimmage.
Missouri finally found their rhythm as the fourth quarter began, driving all the way to the ASU 5-yard line before Franklin tucked and ran in for a touchdown. With 4:16 left in the game, Missouri led 7-6.
As the drive moved down the field, Cameron Marshall went down with a bruised sternum. Freshman DJ Foster stepped in and delivered some beautiful runs, catches blocks to help the offense. Another strong effort led to another field goal from Garoutte with just 1:08 left in the game. 9-7 Devils.
18 seconds left, Mizzou gets to ASU's 32-yard line with an excellent catch by star wide receiver TJ Moe. Another pass to Moe brings them to the 21-yard line with just seconds to play. The Devils call a timeout, facing imminent loss. Mizzou nails the field goal. 3 seconds left 10-9 Tigers.
Taylor Kelly goes for the hail mary, but is sacked. Game over. Devils lose a heartbreaker.
Marshall led the team with 20 carries for 120 yards. Foster added 19 yards on the ground and 16 in the air. The passing game never gained traction.