Arizona State running back Rudy Burgess said earlier this month that he wanted to earn a reputation as a clutch postseason performer. Just call him Mr. Late-December.
A year after tearing through Purdue in ASU's Sun Bowl victory, Burgess turned in a second solid postseason game in as many tries as he helped lead the Sun Devils to a 45-40 win over Rutgers in the Insight Bowl Tuesday night at Chase Field. As he had done all year, Burgess made the most of limited touches.
Going into Tuesday's game, Burgess had totalled 1,129 yards and eight touchdowns on 183 offensive touches for a 6.2 yard-per-touch average. He averaged 8.2 yards per touch Tuesday. He had 103 rushing yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries and 68 receiving yards on four receptions. In last year's Sun Bowl win, Burgess gained 189 yards and two touchdowns on 20 carries and three catches. Burgess, who was likely playing his last game as a running back due to an expected lack of depth at wide receiver next year, wasn't alone in getting ASU's ground attack going.
Freshman Keegan Herring had 79 yards on 19 carries and quarterback Rudy Carpenter chipped in 31 yards on six carries as the Sun Devils racked up 212 rushing yards as a team. The total was third best this season and the most since a 290-yard rushing effort against Northwestern in the third game of the season. Tuesday's tally capped the Sun Devils' most consistent four-game stretch of the season. They surpassed 120 yards in each of their last four games and five of their last six contests. Though the Sun Devils scored just two rushing touchdowns - Burgess's 1-yard plunge in the third quarter and his game-icing run to the corner in the fourth - the ground game was instrumental in the final quarter as ASU milked the clock to protect its lead. Up 39-33 with the ball and 8:51 to play, the Sun Devils went on a lengthy scoring drive that chewed up more than four minutes of the final period and ended with Burgess' second touchdown of the game. When Rutgers closed within a touchdown with two minutes to play, it was Burgess who put the Scarlet Knights away on a
15-yard run for a first down that allowed backup quarterback Chad Christensen to simply take a knee on the final two snaps.