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ASU Football: Late interception overshadows best offensive performance of the year

The Sun Devil offense found their stride on Thursday night, but a walk-off interception in the end zone will be what's remembered the most.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

There will be stories written about the controversial final play call. Comparisons will be made to a certain interception thrown by Russell Wilson in the Super Bowl. And while those thoughts and comments are certainly justified, it's just a little sad that one of the most memorable games in Arizona State history had to end like this.

After a brutal performance in Salt Lake City 12 days ago, the Sun Devil offense rallied for its most spectacular game of the year against Oregon. Mike Bercovici threw for five touchdowns. Running backs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage combined for 286 yards. The maroon and gold finished with 55 points, their most in a Pac-12 game since the 2013 season, but it wasn't enough.

"We may have come up short, but our guys played their butts off," said wide receiver D.J. Foster after the game. "For four quarters and three overtimes, they played their butts off. At the end of the day, we know we left it all out on the field."

Losses mean more in college football than in any other sport. If you lose on an error in an MLB game, it is alright because there are 161 more chances to make up for it. You don't get that luxury in college football, and while that is part of the game's beauty, it can also lead to snap judgements and overreactions.

"That one hurt as bad as any one I have had since I've been here," said head coach Todd Graham.

The painful defeat means Arizona State is now 4-4. For the fans who looked at this season with thoughts of a conference and national championship on the horizon, that is a tough pill to swallow. People are mad because the Ducks get to go home with a win and the Sun Devils have to sleep on another loss.

But sometimes, football games are not that black and white.

If a bounce or two had gone the other way, Graham's team could have very well been the ones that arose from this drunken mess of a football game on top. The narrative would sure look a lot different. The offense would be praised as one of the most improved units in the country. People would forget the defense had 60 dropped on them.

So while the maroon and gold may have lost tonight's game, there are still some positives to be taken away. Offensive coordinator Mike Norvell had 11 days to regroup after the loss at Utah, and the balance he found in his signal caller and running backs resulted in a thing of beauty.

"I thought we had a great game plan," said Foster. "We had good chemistry going and moved the ball really well tonight."

This offense is one that can keep up with the likes of Washington State and California, one that can keep Arizona State competitive no matter how the defense plays. For a group that was questioned by anyone and everyone for a week and a half, they certainly responded with more than enough answers.

Now the only thing that needs work is some goal line play-calling.