Arizona State broke open Saturday's win over Washington State with a pair of touchdown passes from Rudy Carpenter to Kyle Williams. While the damage was done through the air, it was the work on the ground that set it up.
Dimitri Nance had nine carries for 47 yards in the second half to force the Cougars to stack the box and focus on stopping the run. Nance didn't have a carry in the first half before giving the team a spark after intermission.
"It's rare we get single safety coverages," Carpenter said. "When you bring a running back in like Dimitri to run the ball, or anybody that gets the run game going, it forces those safeties to come down in the box to stop the run game. ... I'm pretty confident that if we get one-on-one coverage from anybody in the league, I feel like we can beat them."
Nance had taken a backseat for two-and-a-half games after Shaun DeWitty and Keegan Herring each had 100-yard rushing games in the past two weeks. The pair split carries in the first half, but the Sun Devils put up just 10 points against an inferior Washington State squad.
Nance brought a burst that wasn't lost on coach Dennis Erickson.
"We weren't breaking tackles like I thought we should have in the first half," Erickson said. "We decided to put him in there, and he came in and made some awfully good runs for us."
Defensive tackle Lawrence Guy had another impressive performance.
He had three tackles, including one for a loss, and returned a fumble 22 yards for a score 13 seconds into the fourth quarter to give Arizona State a 31-0 lead.
Guy is seventh on the team with 35 tackles despite a position change from defensive end early in the year.
The Sun Devils wore throwback helmets to commemorate the 50th year of Sun Devil Stadium.
The decal mirrored the logo worn from 1976-79. The players didn't know they would don the helmets until arriving to the game.
Mike Nixon said he wants to continue wearing the helmets if it keeps bringing the defense shutouts, while other players didn't put much stock into the retro look.
"My helmet fits the same," Carpenter said.
Carpenter's third-quarter touchdown pass to Kyle Williams was the 80th of his career, passing Oregon State's Derek Anderson for third place on the Pac-10's all-time list.
The completion also gave Carpenter 10,266 passing yards in his career, the eighth-highest mark in Pac-10 history, passing Washington's Cody Pickett (10,220).
Corona (Calif.) Centennial linebacker Vontaze Burfict attended the game. Burfict, who has made a soft commitment to USC, is a five-star recruit and played high school football with current ASU linebackers Brandon Magee and Shelley Lyons.
Garth Gerhart started at left guard and Paul Unga started at defensive tackle. It was the first career start for both.
Thomas Weber's 21-yard field goal early in the second quarter was the first time Arizona State scored before its opponent since the UNLV game on Sept. 13.