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Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Season wrap: Arizona State

By Ted Miller

Arizona State had a good season that had a bad ending.

The Sun Devils finished 10-4 against one of the nation's toughest schedules and won the Pac-12 South Division in coach Todd Graham's second year. They finished ranked 21st in the nation. They beat four teams that ended up nationally ranked. They beat archrival Arizona for a second consecutive season. They were effective on both sides of the ball.

But, golly, that was a horrible performance against what should have been an outmanned Texas Tech team in the National University Holiday Bowl. That shocking 37-23 whipping reminded the Sun Devils that they haven't not yet arrived.

You can read our graded review of Arizona State here.

Offensive MVP: Quarterback Taylor Kelly took a step forward as a junior to become one of the nation's best quarterbacks. He completed 62 percent of his passes for 3,635 yards with 28 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He also rushed for 608 yards and nine scores. He ranked 25th in the nation in ESPN.com's Total QBR measure of a quarterback. There's certainly room for him to get better in 2014, but he skillfully guided an offense that ranked among the Pac-12 and national leaders in 2013.

Defensive MVP: While defensive tackle Will Sutton's numbers were not as spectacular in 2013 as 2012, he still was one of the nation's dominant defensive players. That's why he won Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year again this year. He finished with 48 tackles, 13.5 tackles for a loss, four sacks and four passes defended. He was named a first-team All-American by the Associated Press.

Best moment: The Sun Devils’ 58-21 stomping of rival Arizona surely warmed the hearts of Arizona State fans everywhere. The Sun Devils dominated from bell-to-bell, leading 30-7 at the half, as Graham improved to 2-0 against Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez, with whom he doesn't share a warm relationship. Retaining the Territorial Cup also gave the Sun Devils a seventh win in a row and 10th of the season. Further, the victory earned the Sun Devils home-field advantage for the Pac-12 title game, though, of course, that didn't end up mattering.

Worst moment: The Holiday Bowl was just awful, far more embarrassing than the two losses to Stanford or even the curiously uninspired performance against Notre Dame. The defense looked helpless, allowing Texas Tech freshman Davis Webb to pass for 410 yards and four touchdowns, while the offense was sloppy and out of sync against a mediocre-to-poor defense. The coaching wasn't that great either, something that was acknowledged by Graham after the game. A prime example of that would be the horrible clock management at the end of the first half which probably cost the Sun Devils a touchdown.