Utah beating Arizona State isn’t improbable just because of the Sun Devils’ aptitude. History is against the Utes, too, as they have often played ASU when their program is down and the other’s is up.
Utah has lost nine straight games to the Sun Devils dating back to 1976 and is just 6-18 overall. Seven losses came in the 17 years since the original “Star Wars” was released, along with two more in the seasons since the Utes joined the Pac-12. Six of the losses have been by 21 points or more. Six of those nine matchups were in Tempe, but at Rice-Eccles Stadium, Utah still lost 47-19 (1977) and 35-14 (2011).
The Utes and Sun Devils met every season but one (1965) between 1961-76, when Utah got six contests in the Wasatch Front. Both teams were part of the Western Athletic Conference from 1962-77 until ASU split for the Pac-10. During that time, Utah never lost more than three games in a row and even won two straight in 1964 and 1966.
The Utes’ last win in the series was a 31-28 decision in 1976 in Tempe.
In 1973, the Utes stunned a nationally ranked Sun Devils squad in a snowy game that featured 10 ASU turnovers. The upset of No. 8 ASU marked the Utes’ most recent regular-season defeat of a Top 10 opponent at home until they beat No. 5 Stanford, 27-21, last month.
Rhett Wilkinson is a project manager for Utah Policy Daily and an alumni of USU. The co-founder of magazine AggieBluePrint.com, he has interned for the Deseret News and other publications. firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter: @wilklogan
ASU jumped out to a 21-0 lead early in the second quarter. The Utes drew as close as 27-19 with 11:02 left in the third quarter before ASU showed a dominance seen in the first stanza. The Sun Devils had 630 total yards on the day. Arizona State quarterback Dennis Sproul threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns. Utah signal-caller Randy Gomez, however, went just 18-of-36 with an interception. The Utes lost linebacker Rich Umphrey, offensive tackle Steve Rudesill and running back Steve Peake all for the season.
Utah finished 3-8 under head coach Wayne Howard. ASU finished 9-3 and ranked 18th in the final AP poll after a Fiesta Bowl loss.
The Utes never stood a chance. It was 28-3 at halftime. ASU quarterback Mike Pagel went 18-of-26 for three touchdowns, and two Sun Devil running backs notched 100-yard rushing outings. The lone bright spot for Utah was Del Rodgers, who tallied 84 yards on just 13 carries, and one was a 42-yard scamper.
Utah recovered following the loss by winning seven straight games and tying another before getting doubled up Nov. 21 at BYU. They finished 8-2-1 under Howard. ASU finished 9-2 and 16th in the final AP poll.
Utah held the ball longer (32:39 to 27:21) and was nearly even with ASU in yards, plays and penalties. However, the Utes committed six turnovers to the Sun Devils’ two. Also, running back Carl Monroe was held to just 57 yards on 19 carries. The Ute defense limited Todd Hons, one of the best quarterbacks in the Pac-10, to just 14-of-29 passing with no touchdowns and one interception.
Utah finished 5-6 under head coach Chuck Stobart. ASU finished 10-2 and sixth in the final AP poll after a Fiesta Bowl win.
The Utes nearly pulled off a remarkable comeback. Down 34-0 in the fourth quarter, Utah didn’t even score until 8:36 remained in the final stanza. Then, it scored four touchdowns in 7:34 to nearly stun 60,777 Sun Devil fans.
According to the box score, the Utes were clearly outplayed. ASU had 13 more first downs and 95 more total yards and sacked Utah quarterback Larry Egger six times.
Utah’s fourth-quarter push was unconventional. Two deep Egger touchdown tosses were sandwiched around an 89-yard punt return for a touchdown. ASU recovered an onside kick with 2:57 remaining, but Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst fumbled on the next play. Egger responded with another touchdown pass six plays later, but the Sun Devils recovered the subsequent onside kick, sinking the Utes’ rally.
Utah finished 8-4 under head coach Jim Fassel. ASU also finished 8-4 after a loss in the Holiday Bowl.
Nearly 6,400 more fans attended this blowout than they did the contest the Utes nearly stole one year later.
The Utes crumbled whenever they would knock on the door. After all, they gained 17 first downs, but Utah signal-callers threw three interceptions and the team committed 10 penalties. Egger was 19-of-33 with no touchdowns and an interception.
Utah finished 2-9 under Fassel. ASU finished 10-1-1 and fourth in the final AP poll after a Rose Bowl win.
After ASU took its first lead (10-7) late in the second quarter, the best Utah could do was get an 18-yard Frank Dolce pass that cut the Sun Devil lead to six with 4:05 remaining. Dolce went 17-of-35 for 217 yards with a touchdown and an interception, while Kurt Lasher went 13-of-20 for 204 yards, a touchdown and no picks. No Utah running back found rhythm on the ground in a game the Utes could have won.
Utah finished 7-5 under head coach Ron McBride. ASU finished 6-5.
Utah quarterback Mike McCoy was intercepted three times and the Utes also lost three fumbles. McCoy went just 12-of-33 overall. ASU dominated so much that a backup quarterback named Jake Plummer played in the fourth quarter.
It was a curious loss. The Utes won seven of their next 11 games and finished just one game out of first place in the final WAC standings. They never were blown out again. in each of their losses came by two scores or less, while the Sun Devils didn’t prove to be better once the season concluded.
Utah finished 7-6 under McBride after losing to USC in the Freedom Bowl. ASU finished 6-5.
The Utes collapsed after they led 14-10 with 10:32 remaining in the third quarter. They fumbled three times in the second half, including two at the ASU 37-yard line in the fourth quarter. Another fumble came near midfield midway through the third quarter after the Sun Devils had narrowed the gap to 14-13.
Quarterback Jon Hays threw three interceptions and fumbled and was joined by Reggie Dunn and Jon White IV in coughing up the ball.
The trappings were similar to the 2013 game. Entering Salt Lake City, ASU was ranked at the edge of the top 25 in the thick of the season.
Utah finished 8-5 under head coach Kyle Whittingham after beating Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. ASU finished 6-7 after getting hammered by Boise State in Maaco Las Vegas Bowl.
Utah followed a wild win over BYU with an utter dud. Arizona State scored on its ﬁrst three possessions to jump to a 21-0 lead in a game that was not suspenseful after late in the first quarter. It was the worst defensive performance by the Utes since joining the Pac-12. Utah’s offense did not fare much better in recording 10 ﬁrst downs to ASU’s 24 and 209 total yards to the Sun Devils’ 512.
ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly threw for a career-high 326 yards and three touchdowns. Reliable running back John White IV lost two fumbles and Jon Hays was mostly ineffective in his second game in place of Jordan Wynn for the Utes.
Utah finished 5-7 under Whittingham. ASU finished 8-5 after throttling Navy in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl.