The Arizona State Sun Devils surrendered five sacks and six quarterback hits en route to a 40-16 loss on the road to the Colorado Buffaloes on Saturday.
The loss marks the first time the Sun Devils (5-2, 2-2 in Pac-12) have ever loss to the Buffaloes (5-2, 3-1) in eight head-to-head contests.
Manny Wilkins (13 of 35, 149 yards, one touchdown, one interception) started at quarterback for ASU after missing last week’s matchup against UCLA with a high-left ankle sprain. His mobility was noticeably limited, and Colorado was able to take advantage by generating plenty of pressure, incorporating a harassing gameplan.
Offensively, the Buffaloes appeared to move the ball at will, while the Sun Devils offense struggled. Colorado finished with 580 total yards of offense (315 rushing, 265 passing), outperforming ASU’s unit, which tallied a measly 199 total yards (50 rushing, 149 passing).
The Sun Devils scored their lone touchdown during a first-quarter possession which began at the Colorado 31-yard line after Koron Crump recovered a muffed punt. Wilkins lofted a five-yard pass to tight end Kody Kohl to tie the game, 7-7.
Colorado and ASU traded field goals, making it a 10-10 game in the second quarter before the Buffaloes took full control of things.
A 66-yard completion from Sefo Liufau (23 of 31, 265 yards; 14 rushes, 38 yards, one touchdown) to Bryce Bobo (six catches, 110 yards) set up a three-yard rushing score by Liufau. With 4:47 left in the second quarter, Phillip Lindsay ran one in from 13 yards out, giving Colorado a 23-10 lead going into the half.
Coming into the game, the Sun Devils have had much better success against opponents in the second half, but the Buffaloes were sure to prevent it from being true Saturday.
On the first play of the second half, Lindsay (26 rushes, 219 yards and three touchdowns) ran through the middle of the Sun Devils defense and jetted 75 yards to the end zone, giving the Buffaloes a 30-10 advantage.
Without a fully healthy quarterback heading the ASU offense, the sound play of the Colorado defense quelled any scoring chances the Sun Devils were able to muster.
The lone scores ASU produced in the second half came thanks to the right foot of Zane Gonzalez, who became the all-time highest scoring kicker in NCAA history during the game. All together he made kicks from 51, 50, and 59 (the longest in program history) yards out.
Special teams was the lone phase of the game the Sun Devils appeared to win.
Eight possessions resulted in three-and-outs for ASU, as its offensive unit went 3-of-18 on third down and only gained seven first downs. It only managed 3.2 yards per play.
The Maroon and Gold’s offensive line had a rough outing against the Buffaloes front-seven. Colorado outside linebacker Jimmie Gilbert racked up six total tackles, including two sacks, three tackles for loss and a forced fumble.
Defensively, the Sun Devils weren’t much better, relinquishing 16 explosive plays to the Buffaloes offense. Poor tackling—an aspect of the game the program has faced criticism over throughout the season—resulted in several big plays, and unquestionably were reflected in the final score.
ASU will look to rectify its errors next week in a home tilt against the Washington State Cougars.