Palo Alto, Calif., - Arizona State’s defense continued its strong play on Saturday night in the Sun Devils’ 41-3 win at Stanford. And Omar Bolden served notice that he is every bit as good as advertised.
ASU held Stanford to 235 yards of total offense, sacked quarterback T.C. Ostrander seven times and forced two turnovers (not counting one forced by the special teams).
“Everybody’s been talking about us being the weak link on the team,” said defensive lineman Dexter Davis, who had 2 1/2 sacks. “But we told each other we could be the strongest unit.”
Before you say, “Hey, it’s just Stanford,” know that this isn’t last year’s edition of the Cardinal that went 1-11 with the worst offense in the Pac-10. First-year coach Jim Harbaugh’s offense averaged 435 yards per game entering Saturday’s game, compared to 232 a year ago. Ostrander came into the night with 828 passing yards and six touchdowns to two interceptions for a quarterback rating of 118.59.
The Sun Devils were not impressed. Before a crowd that appeared quite a bit more intimate than the announced figure of 32,125, ASU harassed Ostrander all night. He finished 20 of 35 for 237 yards and an interception.
Ostrander didn’t get much help from the running game. Anthony Kimble rushed for just 20 yards on 10 carries after coming in averaging 89 per game and the Cardinal totaled a total of minus-2 yards. Stanford managed just one drive of longer than seven plays on the night — a 10-play march at the end of the first half that resulted in a 42-yard Derek Belch field goal for Stanford’s only points.
The domination started up front. In addition to Davis, sacks came from Luis Vasquez, David Smith, Josh Barrett, Robert James (0.5), Dane Guthrie (0.5) and Paul 'Unga (0.5).
“It’s always an important aspect of the game but we knew he (Ostrander) likes to throw the ball, so it was especially important this game,” Davis said.
Bolden’s big moment came earlier in the second quarter . ASU had just gone up 14-0 with two minutes, 31 seconds to go in the half. After a touchback on the kickoff, Ostrander tried to hit Richard Sherman with a pass to the left flat. The ball bounced off Sherman and Bolden snagged it before it hit the ground, then wove his way through the Cardinal offense for a 29-yard touchdown. The true freshman from Ontario, Calif., was hyped as one of the top recruits in the country last year and the Sun Devils had to beat out USC to get his services.
“I was there to scoop it up,” Bolden said, adding that he was immediately thinking touchdown. “If I’ve got the ball in my hands, I’m gonna score. I was a running back in high school.”
It was also the 10th interception on the season for the Sun Devils, a big reason they are 5-0. Their turnover ratio stands at 14-8 now.