Sun Devil football team routs Buffaloes in Tempe
TEMPE - Taylor Kelly accounted for three touchdowns and Marion Grice ran for two more in a dominating first half, leading Arizona State to a 54-13 rout over listless Colorado on Saturday night.
Arizona State (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) wanted to make a statement after a tough stretch in the schedule and did just that, overwhelming the Buffaloes with 25 points in the game's first 11 minutes.
Kelly threw for 233 yards and two touchdowns, ran for another score and Grice pushed his nation-leading touchdown total to 15 as the Sun Devils went up 47-6 at halftime.
Colorado (2-3, 0-3) kept it close against Arizona State in Boulder last season before being outscored 31-0 in the second half.
The Sun Devils nearly matched that in the first quarter and never let up on the Buffaloes, forcing four turnovers while sending them to their 11th straight Pac-12 loss.
Colorado replaced quarterback Connor Wood in the first quarter after an interception and freshman Sefo Liufau wasn't much better, throwing two more interceptions. Colorado also lost a fumble and finished with 268 total yards - Arizona State had 531 - in its third straight lopsided Pac-12 loss.
The Sun Devils have one of the nation's toughest schedules and were coming off the most brutal part of it, facing Wisconsin, Stanford, Southern California and Notre Dame in consecutive weeks.
Arizona State went 2-2, closing the run out with a disappointing 37-34 loss to the Fighting Irish in Texas.
Now that the toughest part is over, the Sun Devils were looking forward to chasing their main goal of winning the Pac-12 championship and facing the less power-oriented teams that comprise most of the conference.
The key was to not overlook Colorado.
The Sun Devils raced past the Buffaloes from the start, scoring on a 69-yard pass from Kelly to Jaelen Strong in the first 90 seconds. Grice scored on an 8-yard run three minutes later, Zane Gonzalez kicked a 26-yard field goal and Grice scored again on a 1-yard run after a Colorado interception.
That made it 25-0 after one quarter for Arizona State, which scored 24 points in the opening quarter its first five games combined. It was the Sun Devils' most first-quarter points since 2002, when they had 28 in a rout of Stanford.
Arizona State didn't let up, either, giving a defensive player a chance to score - end Davon Coleman on a 1-yard pass - and getting a 17-yard rushing touchdown by Kelly for a 47-6 halftime lead.
The Buffaloes doubled their win total from last season in their first two games under new coach Mike MacIntyre, but have struggled since the Pac-12 season started, losing to the two Oregon schools by a combined score of 101-33.
Colorado managed to keep it close with Oregon in the first quarter last week, but stood no chance against the fired-up Sun Devils.
The Buffaloes stagnated on offense to start and couldn't keep up with Arizona State's quick-hitting attack to fall into a big early hole.
Wood struggled his previous two games - 25 of 67 with four interceptions and two TDs - and was replaced by Liufau in the first quarter after an ill-advised, across-the-body throw was intercepted by Arizona State's Lloyd Carrington to set up the Sun Devils' third touchdown.
The change didn't make much difference.
Liufau was called for intentional grounding the end zone for a safety and forced a pass into coverage that was knocked into the air and intercepted by Damarious Randall. Gonzalez followed with his third field goal of the half, a 20-yarder that made it 40-6.
Arizona State had a 392-94 advantage in total yards in the first half and Liufau opened the third quarter by throwing an interception in the end zone.