TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — Brock Osweiler threw for 307 yards and two touchdowns, Cameron Marshall added three scores on the ground and No. 23 Arizona State avoided a letdown with a 48-14 rout over Colorado on Saturday.
In control of the Pac-12 South, Arizona State couldn’t afford a slip-up against an injury-riddled, 31-point underdog.
The Sun Devils (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) made sure there wasn’t one with a dominating performance, manhandling the Buffaloes on both sides of the ball while jumping out to a 21-point lead in the first quarter.
Marshall finished with 114 yards on 15 carries, Arizona State had 522 total yards and its defense forced five turnovers to stay ahead of UCLA in the division race.
Colorado (1-8, 0-5) couldn’t stop Arizona State’s passing, its running or hold onto the ball on offense for its 22nd straight road loss and sixth straight overall.
Tyler Hansen, back from last week’s concussion, threw for 285 yards and a touchdown, but also had two interceptions after replacing freshman Nick Hirschman in the first quarter.
Arizona State put itself in control of the Pac-12 South with a solid run through the toughest stretch of its schedule.
The Sun Devils have a favorable closing road to the Pac-12 Championship game, with four of their five games against teams with losing records.
But Arizona State hasn’t exactly been known for its ability to finish things off.
The Sun Devils have struggled with closing over the past few seasons and came out flat the last time they were overwhelming favorites, opening with three straight turnovers against Oregon State on Oct. 1 before pulling away for a 35-20 win.
There was no lookahead or letdown this time.
Osweiler hit Miles on a 25-yard touchdown pass on Arizona State’s fifth play. Next drive, Arizona State’s line created a hole big enough for a bus to drive through and Marshall cruised through for a 19-yard touchdown run.
Osweiler made it 21-0 before the first quarter was over, threading a 33-yard pass just over the shoulder of Colorado defensive back Ray Polk into the hands of Kevin Ozier for a touchdown.
Marshall added touchdown runs of 11 and 4 yards to keep the Buffaloes from making any kind of run.
It wasn’t much of a surprise the way Colorado’s year has gone.
The Buffaloes came into their inaugural Pac-12 season without much depth, making the rash of injuries even tougher to take.
Colorado’s injury report for Arizona State listed 18 players, including five out for the season, leaving head coach Jon Embree to spend his first season in Boulder shifting the roster around like a game of Sudoku while trying to find combinations that work.
The lack of a bye week hasn’t helped much, either.
Outscored 145-33 the previous three games, Colorado found itself on the wrong end of another rout almost from the opening snap.
Arizona’s offense had its way with the young Buffs, piling up 222 yards in the first quarter on the way to a 31-7 halftime lead.
Colorado’s offense didn’t have it much better, even after switching quarterbacks.
Hirschman opened under center and nearly threw an interception on his first pass. He was just 3 for 6 for 16 yards when Hansen replaced him for Colorado’s third series.
Hansen appeared to be fine after last week’s hit and had a few decent plays in the first half, but he and the Buffaloes couldn’t get out of their own way.
Colorado had two turnovers in the half — an interception by Hansen and a fumble on a hook-and-ladder that failed miserably — and got its only points when Josh Moten scooped up a deflected backward pass and ran the fumble in for a 16-yard touchdown that made it 24-7.
Three plays later, Marshall scored on an 11-yard touchdown run, set up by Osweiler’s 51-yard pass to Aaron Pflugrad over the middle. Hansen completed a Hail Mary to Logan Gray at the halftime buzzer, but the 53-yard pass was well short of the goal line.
It was that kind of day for the Buffaloes.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)