ASU pitches shutout, braces for meat of early-season schedule

Apparently the Arizona State football team got Todd Graham’s message loud and clear.

Five days after Eastern Washington upset Oregon State the Sun Devils made sure there wouldn’t be another Big Sky upset exterminating the Hornets 55-0 Thursday night at Sun Devil Stadium.

“We need to stay focused, stay humble,” Graham said after the game. “I’m fired up we have the Big 10 champions coming in.”

ASU did what a Pac-12 South contender is expected to racing out to a 42-0 halftime lead and never looking back in a game they were never challenged. The Devils first punt didn’t occur until 19 seconds before halftime. Graham’s defense, who played part of the game without senior linebacker Chris Young who suffered what appeared to be a minor injury, allowed only four first-half first downs.

However the perfectionist wasn’t completely happy with the other side of the ball, even scoring 55 which could have easily been 70.

“I thought they played,” the usually hoarse Graham explained. “I felt like we were kinda sluggish. We’ve gone a lot faster than that in practice.”

Starting quarterback Taylor Kelly was brilliant (19-24, 251 yards and a career-high five touchdowns…by halftime) and Will Sutton was his usual disrupting, dominating self but let’s tap the brakes before booking those flights and hotels to Pasadena.

Sacramento State boarded the flight, played the game and got their paycheck. Nothing more, nothing less.

As for the maroon and gold, things are about to get real.

Murderer’s Row begins with a visit from Big 10 heavyweight Wisconsin followed by a trip Palo Alto to face a loaded Stanford team. USC precedes Notre Dame at Jerry World in Arlington.

Time to strap it up and hold on tight starting next week.

“We need to stay focused, stay humble,” Graham said after the game. “I’m fired up we have the Big 10 champions coming in.”

It’s going to be a wild ride.

Check out a breakdown of ASU’s week one win over Sacramento State with Jared Cohen and ASUDevils.com’s Chris Karpman: