They call it Pac-12 After Dark for a reason, folks. Anything can happen.
Trailing 13-3 heading into the fourth quarter, Arizona State rallied back in Herm Edwards’ second game as head coach and pulled off a 16-13 upset over No. 15 Michigan State with a 28-yard Brandon Ruiz field goal as time expired.
— Cronkite Sports (@CronkiteSports) September 9, 2018
The Sun Devils struggled to move the ball with great effect or put points on the board for the majority of the game – ASU trailed 3-0 at halftime – but they got them when it counted.
Ruiz cut the deficit to 13-6 less than a minute into the final quarter to set the stage for the dramatic comeback with his second field goal of the game. After the teams traded possessions, quarterback Manny Wilkins unleashed the Sun Devils on a two-play, 65-yard touchdown drive, first completing a 38-yarder to Kyle Williams and then finding star wideout N’Keal Harry for 27 yards for the game-tying touchdown.
Getting a comeback win over a ranked opponent is twice as nice. 😏
— Pac-12 Network (@Pac12Network) September 9, 2018
Arizona State used a bunch of clock to end the game
The Spartans fizzled on the ensuing possession and punted the ball back to the Sun Devils with just under five minutes to go. Michigan State never saw the ball again, as Wilkins led his team on a meandering 13-play, 69-yard drive that ate up all but three seconds of remaining game time – which set up Ruiz’s game-winning kick.
The late field goal required some savvy clock management, which isn’t something that Herm Edwards has necessarily been known for in his career. But he, and the Sun Devils, got it done on Saturday night.
“Our good players had to make some plays and obviously No. 1 [N’Keal Harry] came up big,” Edwards said after the game.
Both Wilkins and Michigan State QB Brian Lewerke topped the 300-yard mark passing, as neither team was able to get much of a run game going. Wilkins finished with 380 yards on 30-of-48 passing while Lewerke threw 27-of-39 for 314 yards. Both had a pick and a touchdown.
But the bigger story was Edwards nabbing a signature win this early in his Arizona State tenure – something that very few were expecting – to remain undefeated at 2-0.
Michigan State now needs Big Ten perfection
If this sounds like a broken record, apologies. But no two-loss team has ever made the College Football Playoff. That streak will probably end at this point, and Michigan State hopes it is the one that does it. Asking anyone from Ohio State, Michigan or Penn State to go undefeated in the Big Ten East is a gargantuan task. And it feels even larger for this Michigan State team that allowed Arizona State to hang around and take the game late in the fourth quarter Saturday night.
Could Michigan State go 9-0 in the Big Ten? Anything is possible. Will it? Nah. The Spartans are going to need to improve — and beat their rivals soundly — for a chance at the playoffs.
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