Sun Devils, Longhorns Meet Thursday in Holiday Bowl

Dec. 23, 2007

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Date: Thursday, December 27, 2007
Kickoff: 5:00 p.m. PST
Site: Qualcomm Stadium (70,561) - San Diego, Calif.
Television: ESPN
Play-by-Play: Brent Musburger
Color: Kirk Herbstreit
Sideline: Lisa Salters
Sun Devil Radio: KTAR 620 AM
Play-by-Play: Tim Healey
Color: Former ASU QB and 1987 Rose Bowl MVP Jeff Van Raaphorst

• 2007 marks the 11th time in school history ASU has won at least 10 games
• Rudy Carpenter is the fourth QB in ASU history to pass for 2,000 yards three straight years
• Senior WR Rudy Burgess is the only active player in the Pac-10 Conference and one of three in the nation to have surpassed 1,000 yards rushing, receiving and returning during his career
• Junior TB Keegan Herring has 2,235 career rushing yards, 10th-most in Arizona State football history
• The ASU defense has allowed an average of 1.8 points in the fourth quarter this season
• Arizona State is making its fourth straight bowl appearance, the second time in school history it has done that
• ASU has not suffered back-to-back losing seasons in 59 years, the fourth-longest active streak in the nation

TEMPE, Ariz. - Thanks to its 20-17 victory over Arizona, Arizona State has won a share of the Pac-10 championship and will head to San Diego, Calif., for a match-up with the Texas Longhorns in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl on Dec. 27. ASU finished the regular season 10-2, 7-2 in Pac-10 play, while Texas was 9-3, 5-3 in the Big 12. ASU will be the designated visiting team.

The Sun Devil Sports Network will carry the Holiday Bowl live on its 10-station radio network, including flagship station Sports 620 KTAR AM. Tim Healey (play-by-play) and former Sun Devil quarterback Jeff Van Raaphorst (color analyst) will call the action.

ESPN will televise the Holiday Bowl to a national audience. Brent Musburger and Kirk Herbstreit will call the action with Lisa Salters on the sidelines. ESPN Radio will also broadcast the game with Dan Fouts, Tim Brant and Todd Harris.

The 2007 Holiday Bowl will be the first meeting between Arizona State and Texas.

The Sun Devils will be making their third all-time appearance in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl. They played in the 2002 game, falling 34-27 to #6 Kansas State. They also appeared in the 1985 game, losing 18-17 to Arkansas.

With the win over Arizona, ASU clinched a share of the 2007 Pacific-10 Conference Championship. It is the third Pac-10 title in school history, joining the 1986 and 1996 teams, who won outright titles.

The Sun Devils ended the regular season ranked #12 in both the AP Poll and the USA Today poll. They finished ranked #11 in the BCS Standings.

The Arizona State defense shut down the Arizona offense as the Sun Devils picked up a 20-17 victory to keep the Territorial Cup in Tempe. DL Michael Marquardt was named the game's MVP thanks to a fumble recovery and a blocked field goal, while Rudy Carpenter threw two touchdowns to pick up his third career win over the Wildcats.

• DL Michael Marquardt earned the Ben Goo MVP Award, as voted on by the media
• Arizona State blocked a kick for the second week in a row and the third time this season when Marquardt blocked a 47-yard field goal attempt by Jason Bondzio in the third quarter
• With his 32-yard kick off return in the third quarter, Rudy Burgess brought his season total to 729 yards and moved past former record-holder Chris Hopkins, who set the standard with 713 return yards in 1995. Burgess finished the day with two returns for 56 yards
• The win was ASU's third in a row in the series, giving the Sun Devils their first three-game winning streak against the Wildcats since taking four in a row between 1975 and 1978

Dennis Erickson has been named the 2007 Pac-10 Coach of the Year, the third time in his career he has won the award. Erickson becomes the third man to win the award three times, joining USC's Pete Carroll and Washington's Don James. He is the first person to win the award at three schools. He won in 1988 at Washington State and in 2000 with Oregon State. Coach Erickson is the third winner in ASU history, joining John Cooper (1986) and Bruce Snyder (1996). Erickson has also won Big East and Big Sky Coach of the Year honors.

15 Sun Devils earned All-Pac-10 honors this season, including four First Team members. Center Mike Pollak, linebacker Robert James, kicker Thomas Weber and wide receiver Kyle Williams all earned First Team honors. Williams was named to the First Team as a punt returner. Dexter Davis, Justin Tryon and Troy Nolan all earned Second Team honors. Rudy Burgess, Rudy Carpenter, Paul Fanaika, Mike Jones, Michael Marquardt, Chris McGaha, Brandon Rodd and Luis Vasquez were all Honorable Mentions.

Rudy Carpenter continues to be one of the top QBs in the Pac-10 Conference. Carpenter ranks second to WSU's Alex Brink, who is a year of eligibility ahead of Carpenter, in passing attempts, completed passes, passing yards, touchdown passes and 300 yard games. Carpenter now has 63 career touchdown passes and has thrown for 7,811 yards in his his three seasons at ASU. Carpenter was named a semifinalist for the Davey O'Brien Award, given to the nation's top QB.

Rudy Carpenter now has 63 touchdown passes in his career. He is only the fourth Sun Devil all-time to throw at least 60 touchdowns, joining Andrew Walter (85), Jake Plummer (65) and Danny White (64). The 63 career TD passes are good for 13th-most in Pac-10 history, one behind Cal's Kyle Boller (1999-2002). With his two touchdown tosses against the Wildcats, Carpenter broke his tie with Oregon's Kellen Clemens, who threw 61 career scoring strikes from 2002 to 2005.

With his 247 yards through the air against Arizona, Rudy Carpenter now has 7,811 career passing yards as a Sun Devil. He is only the third Sun Devil to ever pass the 7,000 yard mark, joining Andrew Walter (10,617) and Jake Plummer (8,827). He has also topped the 2,000 yard mark for the season, the third straight year he has achieved that milestone. He has 3,015 yards passing so far in 2007. He is the fourth Sun Devil in history to pass for at least 2,000 yards three straight times. He joins Jeff Van Raaphorst (1984-86), Jake Plummer (1994-96) and Andrew Walter (2002-04) on that list.

Rudy Burgess is one of only three active FBS players and one of only 14 FBS players all-time to top the 1,000-yard mark in rushing, receiving and return yardage. In his career, Burgess has 1,093 yards on the ground, 1,524 yards through the air and 1,600 return yards on both punts and kickoffs. He has scored 19 times as a Sun Devil, six rushing, 12 receiving and one return. He also threw a 43-yard touchdown pass to Derek Hagan in 2005 against Washington State. Hagan set the school record for career touchdown receptions on that pass.

Against USC, Rudy Burgess became ASU's all-time leader in kickoff return yards, passing Chris Hopkins. Hopkins totaled 1,225 from 1992 to 1995. Against the Wildcats, Burgess also passed Hopkins for most kick return yards in a single season, eclipsing the previous record of 713. Burgess now has 729 yards on kickoff returns this season.

WR Chris McGaha has been the go-to-guy for the Sun Devil offense on third down in 2007. He has 52 catches for the season, and of those 52 receptions, 40 of them have gone for a first down, including four of the six against Arizona. Though he has yet to find the end zone, 77% of his catches have resulted in a Sun Devil first down.

Troy Nolan picked up his sixth interception of the year against Arizona on Dec.1 . The six picks by Nolan is the most by a Sun Devil in a single season since Nathan LaDuke had six in 1989.

Redshirt freshman kicker Thomas Weber has been named the Lou Groza Award Winner, given to the nation's top kicker. The award was presented in Orlando, Fla. on Dec. 6 during the ESPN Home Depot Awards Show. Weber is the first Sun Devil to win the award.

Groza Award winner Thomas Weber has begun his ASU career like no other kicker before him. The redshirt freshman kicker had his school record of 17-straight successful field goal attempts end against the Ducks on Nov. 3. Before missing wide right on a 32-yard attempt at the end of the second quarter, Weber had connected on a 19-yarder and a 34-yarder to give him 17 field goals in a row. Not only was that the best streak in ASU history to begin a career, it's also a school record for most consecutive made field goals. Alan (1987) and Luis (1981) Zendejas shared the previous record of nine, and Mike Richey held the previous record of consecutive field goals to begin a career at eight in 1989 and 1990. Weber continued his stellar year against Arizona, going 2-2 on field goals. That gave him 22 this season, tying him with UCLA's Kai Forbath for the Pac-10 freshman record. Forbath and Weber broke the record held by Arizona's Gary Coston in 1989. The NCAA record for field goals by a freshman is also within reach, as Weber needs only one more to tie Collin Mackie of South Carolina, who went 23-30 in 1987.

Weber's 22 field goals so far this season are the fourth-most field goals made in a single season in school history. Luis Zendejas holds the school record with 28, going 28-37 in the 1983 season. Weber needs one more to tie Mike Barth, who made 23 in 2002, for third on the list. Weber is first in the Pac-10 in scoring, averaging 9.0 points per game. He was named the Pac-10 Special Teams Player of the Week three times this season.

Robert James continues to be a leader on the Sun Devil defense. James has led Arizona State in tackles seven times this year. He leads the team with 99 total tackles. He's also made eight tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this season.

Sophomore defensive end Dexter Davis enjoyed one of the most sensational freshman seasons by a Sun Devil defender in school history last season, earning Pac-10 All-Freshman honors and honorable mention freshman All-America recognition by The Sporting News. The Phoenix, Ariz., native recorded a team-best and Pac-10 freshman season-high 6.0 quarterback sacks, the third-most by a Sun Devil rookie in school history. Davis' total trails only those by Terrell Suggs (2000) and Shante Carver (1990), who each posted 10.0 sacks as a freshman and in total, Suggs (44 career sacks) and Carver (41) rank first and second on ASU's all-time career sacks list. Also, Davis totaled 40 tackles on the season, the most by an ASU freshman since TSN freshman All-America safety Jason Shivers' team-high 89 total stops in 2001. Davis has picked up right where he left off, as he has racked up a team leading 10.5 sacks and 13.5 tackles for loss. Davis had two sacks against the Wildcats.

Arizona State is ranked nationally in many major categories on both offense and defense. The Sun Devils are ranked 16th nationally in pass efficiency defense (108.49). The defense is also ranked 13th in the nation in rushing defense (100.9 ypg). The Sun Devils lead the country in Time of Possession at 33:55 and are 11th in the country in Pass Efficiency (149.4). Rudy Carpenter is 15th nationally in pass efficiency (149.49), while Groza Award finalist Thomas Weber is tied for 5th nationally with 22 field goals and is tied for 18th in scoring at 9.1 points per game. Troy Nolan is tied for 10th in the nation with six interceptions.

No team in the Pac-10 showcased as many talented defensive freshmen as ASU did in 2006, headlined by defensive end Dexter Davis and linebacker Travis Goethel, both of whom earned Pac-10 All-Freshman and honorable mention Freshman All-America honors by The Sporting News. Both Davis and Goethel anchor the Sun Devil defense in 2007.

The Sun Devils showcase one of the most experienced and honored offensive lines in the Pac-10, as ASU boasts the only unit of linemen in the conference which returns all five starters from the conclusion of the 2006 season. Also, ASU returns three offensive linemen that received All-Pac-10 honors in 2006, trailing only Oregon State for most in the conference and five Sun Devil linemen, including four starters, have already earned their undergraduate degree. The Sun Devil front five is led by second-team All-Pac-10 center, graduate Mike Pollak and honorable mention All-Pac-10 recipients junior guard Paul Fanaika and graduate tackle Brandon Rodd. Graduate guard Robert Gustavis and graduate tackle Julius Orieuwku also provide starting experience for 2007. In 2006, the Sun Devil blockers helped enable ASU to gain its greatest rushing total since 1999 and showcase the team's first 1,000-yard runner since 2001. The line has done their job again in 2007. ASU is averaging 146.6 yards per game on the ground and Ryan Torain reached the 100 yard mark on the ground three times. Keegan Herring also has three 100-yard games under his belt. ASU has also rushed for 17 touchdowns so far this year.

After establishing itself in recent years as a national offensive powerhouse predominately predicated on its passing attack, ASU proved it could attack opposing defenses with a punishing ground game last season. The Sun Devils boast one of the best backfields in the Pac-10, featuring junior Keegan Herring and sophomore Dimitri Nance. ASU rushed for 2,206 yards in 2006 and so far in 2007 it has gained 1,662 yards on the ground. In total, ASU has three of eight active Pac-10 ballcarriers to have surpassed 1,000 career rushing yards, including Herring and Ryan Torain as well as senior wide receiver Rudy Burgess, who is a dangerous all-purpose threat and was ASU's starting tailback during the 2004 and 2005 seasons.

After breaking ASU's freshman rushing record by totaling 870 yards in 2005, junior Keegan Herring rushed for 549 yards on 94 carries in 2006 as part of the most dynamic rushing combination in the Pac-10 Conference. One of the quickest athletes in the Pac-10, Herring led all Sun Devil runners last season averaging 5.8 yards-per-carry and is one of only four active ballcarriers in the conference to have rushed for over 500 yards in each of the past two seasons. He has hit the 500 yard mark again, the third straight year he has surpassed it. Herring has 816 yards on 152 carries so far in 2007. In 37 career games, the Peoria (Ariz.) High School product has totaled 404 carries for 2,235 yards and 17 rushing touchdowns.

With 2,235 career rushing yards, Keegan Herring has become the 16th Sun Devil to rush for over 2,000 yards in his career. Herring is one of only six active Pac-10 running backs to achieve the 2,000 yard mark. He is the first Sun Devil to get to 2,000 yards since J.R. Redmond, who did it from 1996 to 1999. Herring is now 10th all-time in ASU history with his 2,235 yards, 239 yards shy of Ben Malone for ninth-place.

Rudy Carpenter is now 21-9 as Arizona State's starting quarterback. That's the fourth most victories by a starting ASU QB all-time. Danny White holds the all-time record for wins by a starting QB, going 30-3 in from 1971 to 1973. Dennis Sproul is second with a 26-11 record from 1974-77. Carpenter is tied with Jeff Van Raaphorst for fourth-place.

Dennis Erickson is no stranger to facing ranked opponents. In his career, Coach Erickson is 27-17 against Top 25 teams, including an 8-5 record against teams in the Top 5. Texas enters the Holiday Bowl ranked #17 in the nation.

The 8-0 start at ASU for Dennis Erickson was not only the best start by a coach in school history, it was one of the best starts in the history of the Pac-10 Conference. The 8-0 mark was the second-best start by a Pac-10 coach in the Post-War Era, and the best start in the past 56 years. In 1951, Stanford's Charles Taylor started 9-0. Coach Erickson is also the first ASU coach to ever win his first five Pac-10 games at ASU.

With the seven Pac-10 victories in 2007, Dennis Erickson became only the second coach in the 30-year history of the Pac-10 to win seven Pac-10 games in his first season with a school. Larry Smith of USC is the only other coach to do it, going 7-1 in 1987.

Arizona State will be making its fourth straight bowl appearance in 2007. The last time ASU went to four straight bowl games was from 1970 to 1973, when it appeared in the Peach Bowl and the first three Fiesta Bowls.

Sun Devil fans were treated to musical legend Little Richard at halftime of the USC game. Little Richard is an inaugural member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and performed with the Sun Devil Marching Band. It marked Little Richard's final public appearance ever.

The Arizona State football team has several two-sport athletes on the roster. WR Mike Jones has spent the past two seasons as a centerfielder for the baseball team, including last year's Pac-10 Championship team that advanced to the College World Series. Jones was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the 42nd round of the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft, but has opted not to sign a contract and will return to the baseball team in 2008. WR Kyle Williams will also play baseball for ASU in 2008. He took the 2007 baseball season off to concentrate on football, but hopes to compete for an infield spot in 2008. In addition to the baseball players, ASU football also has three student-athletes who participated in the Pac-10 Track & Field Championships last season. WR Rodney Glass, CB Justin Tryon and WR Brandon Smith all ran for the Devils in Palo Alto, Calif.

Eight members of the Arizona State football team have already earned their undergraduate degrees, tied for the fifth most players in the country. Five of the ASU grads are offensive linemen. Eleven current Devils also participated in graduation ceremonies this December. Those graduating in December were: Chris Baloney, Rudy Burgess, Jeff Gray, Robert James, Preston Jones, Kellen Mills, Tranell Morant, Brett Nenaber, Jason Perkins, Tyrice Thompson and Justin Tryon.

Sun Devil Stadium was sold out for the game against Arizona, giving Arizona State three straight sold out home games for the first time since 1988. Both the Cal and the USC home games sold out, leading into the Arizona game. The last time ASU sold out three home game was during the 1996 season.

Arizona State has won its past seven games decided by three points or less, including both games this year, dating to its 45-42 win at No. 6 Oregon on Oct. 19, 2002. All but one of the games (33-31 over North Carolina in 2003) were Pac-10 contests.

Arizona State University football will say goodbye to 27 seniors who will be making their final appearances as Sun Devils in the Holiday Bowl. The Sun Devil Seniors are: CB Chris Baloney, S Josh Barrett, WR Rudy Burgess, TE Brady Conrad, OL Djadji Daffe, WR Jeff Gray, CB Chad Green, OL Robert Gustavis, LB Robert James, P Jonathan Johnson, CB Littrele Jones, TB Preston Jones, LB Garrett Judah, OL Zach Krula, DL Michael Marquardt, DL Tashaka Merriweather, TE Brent Miller, DL Kellen Mills, DL Tranell Morant, S Brett Nenaber, OL Julius Orieukwu, SN Jason Perkins, C Mike Pollak, OL Brandon Rodd, WR/TE Tyrice Thompson, TB Ryan Torain and CB Justin Tryon.

ASU was picked to finish fourth in the Pacific-10 Conference by West Coast media members who regularly cover the league. Defending Pac-10 champion USC was the unanimous choice to win their fifth straight conference crown, garnering all 39 first place votes. USC and Arizona State both finished 10-2 and 7-2 in conference play.