Boos filled Sun Devil Stadium as quarterback Jayden Daniels got sacked for a loss of seven yards, putting the Arizona State Sun Devils on their own 19-yard line late in the fourth quarter with the Sun Devils up three on No. 6 Oregon Ducks.
Just one play later on 3rd-and-16, the energy flipped as Daniels connected with Brandon Aiyuk for an 81-yard catch giving the Sun Devils a 10-point lead with 3:54 left.
Despite giving up another touchdown late to put the score at 31-28, the Sun Devils (6-5, 3-5 Pac-12) pulled off the upset to crush the Ducks’ (9-2, 7-1 Pac-12) dreams of a playoff run.
“We know Oregon is Oregon,” Aiyuk said. “They think they’re big, bad, mighty Oregon and I had a feeling they were going to come out and do what they do. They were still playing me man to man, but I mean last year they had a lot of big talkers. They didn’t say too much today.”
The Ducks struck first with a rushing touchdown from Cyrus Habibi-Likio. However, the Sun Devils responded on the next drive with another deep pass from Daniels who found Frank Darby for a 57-yard touchdown.
The Sun Devils never trailed the rest of the game.
“We knew coming into this game that the only way we could survive it was to make it ugly early and possess the ball,” head coach Herm Edwards said. “We tried to slow the game down and not make it one of those games where we were playing from behind.”
At the beginning of the second quarter defensive back Jack Jones got an unsportsmanlike conduct call from the sideline. One play into the fourth quarter Jones intercepted Ducks’ quarterback Justin Herbert returning it seven yards and setting his team up on Oregon’s 32-yard line.
Just shortly after, Daniels launched a ball into the air finding Darby in the corner of the end zone giving the Sun Devils a 21-7 lead.
“I don’t what was said,” Edwards said. “I told him to calm down and take a deep breath, relax. He got a big pick and brought the ball over to me and said ‘Coach I’m sorry’ and I told him to keep intercepting the ball.”
Oregon got the ball back and the result stayed the same, another interception. This time by Khaylan Kearse-Thomas.
The Sun Devils added another touchdown to their lead, but the Ducks weren’t done fighting yet. Add in two touchdowns and the Ducks were back in it, down by three with five minutes left in the game.
“We got some turnovers and then within five minutes they just came back,” Edwards said. “We knew that when they got going, they would keep going.”
With this win, the Sun Devils snapped a four-game losing streak along with becoming bowl eligible for the second year in a row under Edwards. He always believed in his team.
“I never lost them,” Edwards said. “I always got em. You look at the four games the way we played, we didn’t get blow out, we just lost. It’s a loss. We were competitive.
“I think what happened to us was we didn’t handle success and when you’re young you think it’s easy. Then all of a sudden we lost it. I kept telling them when you get tired of losing, finally get tired of losing you’ll figure this thing out. They got tired of losing.”
Earlier this season, the Sun Devils upset Michigan State and Cal. But they have struggled against non-ranked opponents.
“We should be playing like this all the time,” Daniels said. “We have something to prove. We lost some games on the road this game, but this win just felt different. They just happened to be the No. 6 ranked team. Just come out there with a chip on our shoulder.”
Daniels ended the night going 22-for-32 and throwing 408 yards. Aiyuk racked up 161 receiving yards and a score, while Darby added 125 yards and two touchdowns.
The Sun Devils will battle the Arizona Wildcats for the Territorial Cup in Tempe next Saturday at 8 p.m.