With Anu Solomon not dressed because of a concussion, the Arizona Wildcats turned to Jerrard Randall to start at quarterback for the Territorial Cup.
That did not go well, and third-stringer Brandon Dawkins found himself in the middle of the rivalry game midway through the second quarter.
Dawkins responded, leading a Wildcat rally in the second half to pull within eight at the end of the third quarter, and then again midway through the fourth. But the Arizona State Sun Devils were just too much at the end, holding on for a 52-37 victory thanks to two late pick-sixes, and earning bowl eligibility themselves.
Here's what went down:
Rocket Randall: It doesn't come as a surprise to anyone anymore, but Jerrard Randall just can't put any touch on his passes, and that ultimately cost him his opportunity. It started with his very first attempt, and went right though to his last one, where Nate Phillips came off the field screaming at him because Randall threw a dart behind him.
Dancing Dawkins: Brandon Dawkins then got his opportunity, and started it by running more sideways than down the field, but that got better, as his first drive at QB went 70 yards, culminating in a Casey Skowron field goal.
Digestive issues Dawkins: Arizona forced a fumble on the first ASU drive of the second half, and Dawkins came into the game just seconds after throwing up on the sideline and spending the entire halftime throwing up in the locker room. He was better this way. He was running faster, and he was finding open receivers consistently, including a 95-yard touchdown to Trey Griffey to make it 31-23 in the third quarter.
That Griffey TD was probably a nice little gift for his dad. Junior's birthday was Saturday.
Dawkins also ran in a touchdown at the end of the game to make it a 15-point deficit. He said afterwards that was one of the most physically-taxing games he's ever played in, but also said his stomach was feeling better.
Typical Skowron: Arizona's senior kicker just kept on keeping on. He was a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals after going 3-for-3 last week. Casey Skowron will be missed next year I believe.
Offensive offensive line: This game was a disaster for Arizona's offensive line. They did Dawkins as well as the running game no favors. It was just brutal.
Slashing the secondary: Arizona's corners were pretty awful from start to finish, with the exception of this pick-six by Cam Denson. DaVonte' Neal was making bone-headed plays, and also got burned for a 41-yard touchdown by Jalen Harvey, who never had caught a pass in his career, let alone a touchdown, before this game.
The thing about it is that Jamar Allah was limping around before the game and did not play much, which may have forced the defensive coaches to adjust their safety blitzes. But still, it was a pretty inexcusable performance by the Wildcat corners.
Inconsistent Cam: A little more on Denson. He would make a big play (like a tackle for loss) and then give up a huge play. Or get called for a hold on a punt return. He's been very up-and-down all season, and it wouldn't surprise me at all to see the coaching staff move him back to offense full-time for next year.
Running woes: Without the stats of Arizona's QBs, the running game was downright abyssmal. The offensive line could not get anything going up the middle, and that resulted in Nick Wilson and Jared Baker struggling big time. The two combined for just nine yards on nine attempts. The fact that Arizona was in this game late with those numbers is just astonishing.
Bye week: We have finally reached Arizona's bye week. The next thing that happens for this team is Bowl Selection Sunday on December 6th. It seems like they could literally end up anywhere, from New York, to Orlando, to Vegas or San Diego.