2014 Sun Bowl final score: Arizona State the superior Devils, 36-31
The Sun Devils and Blue Devils met in El Paso to establish eternal dominion of the underworld.
Arizona State is your 2014 Sun Bowl champion. This is now Todd Graham’s second 10-win season in three years in Tempe, plus his second bowl win. The Sun Devils had not won double-digit games in consecutive years since the early 1970s.
ASU’s Jaelen Strong stamped his pro-ready college career with 103 yards, while Taylor Kelly threw for 240 and a pair of touchdowns. Shaquille Powell and Jamison Crowder each broke 100 yards from scrimmage for Duke.
Missed ASU opportunities and Duke’s bend-don’t-break kept this one close. ASU settled for three field goals, failed two fourth-down tries, and punted once. Duke — outgained by about 100 yards until late in the fourth quarter — also found its offense thanks in part to a couple fourth down conversions of its own, including a brave halfback pass on fourth-and-2 for a go-ahead touchdown, 31-30.
A 96-yard kick return from Kalen Ballage followed, setting up Kelly‘s throw to Demario Richard for the next go-ahead touchdown. The score was 36-31 after a failed two-point conversion, and that was Richard’s fourth score of the day. Duke drove the length of the field, but Kweishi Brown sealed it up with a pick at the 45-second mark.
With quarterback Anthony Boone, receiver Crowder and guard Laken Tomlinson among the many Blue Devils on their way out, Duke will likely enter 2015 with lessened expectations yet again. That seems to suit Cutcliffe and company just fine.
As for ASU, the Sun Devils lose Kelly, Strong and another couple contributors, but should return a lot from what entered this season as an inexperienced defense. And potential 2015 starting QB Mike Bercovici performed capably in extended minutes this season. The Pac-12 South should be a total brawl, and the Sun Devils will be right in the middle of it.