As 9-3 Arizona State prepares for 9-3 Duke in the 2014 Sun Bowl, let’s revisit the Sun Devil’s last trip to El Paso, Texas ten years ago.
#19 ASU (9-3) finished the 2004 season tied with Oregon State for 3rd place in the PAC-10. This garnered an invite to the 71st Annual Sun Bowl where the Sun Devils would square off with the Purdue Boilermakers (7-5) on New Years Eve.
Sun Devil stand-out QB Andrew Walter, the then all-time Pac-10 leader in TD passes with 85, had separated his right shoulder mid-way through the 4th Qtr in a Territorial Cup loss just weeks earlier. This opened the door for sophomore Sam Keller to prove his worth in his first career start for the Devils.
Keller delivered, particularly in the second half. He out-dueled Purdue’s Kyle Orton, going 25 of 45 for 370 yards. Orton was 23 of 47 for 281 yards. That day, both signal callers threw 3 TD’s with no interceptions.
Keller’s first came in the 3rd Qtr with a 27-yard strike to Derek Hagen, putting the Devils up 10-9. Hagan, ASU’s all-time leading receiver, pulled in 9 catches for 182 yds.
Keller’s other two TD passes came in the final 6 1/2 minutes of the Sun Bowl. On both he connected with versatile #3, Rudy Burgess, who had a monster game for ASU. The first was a 41-yard catch, putting ASU up 20-16 followed by the game winner with a 19-yard reception for pay dirt with just 44 seconds left on the clock. *Footage courtesy of JediASU below.
Although ASU place kicker Jesse Ainsworth had an off day, he opened all scoring with a 22 yard FG. He also hit from 34 yards early in the 4th Qtr, which proved to be the difference in the game.
The Devils out-gained the Boilermakers on the ground 158 yards to 66, 125 of which came on the heals of Burgess and his 20 carries.
The first half was mostly a sleeper, ending with an ASU 3-2 advantage. But the fireworks started immediately after the break when Purdue’s Kyle Orton threw an 80 yard TD pass on the 1st play of the 2nd half.
Final: ASU Sun Devils 27 – Purdue Boilermakers 23. Todd Graham is looking to avenge last year’s ugly performance in the Holiday Bowl Loss. If he’s successful, the 3-year head coach will have secured his 28th victory with back-to-back 10-win seasons.
Get tickets to this years Bowl Game in El Paso. It’s only a 5-hour drive from Phoenix.
* Here’s ASU’s game winning drive in the 2004 Sun Bowl-