TEMPE, Arizona — A forced fumble by the Colorado Buffaloes might have been a turnover instead went for an Arizona touchdown. A blocked punt led to a Sun Devils field goal, and an interception produced another touchdown for Arizona State.
Those three calamitous plays, plus a fumble that set up another ASU touchdown drive in the third quarter, made Saturday night an unsuccessful evening for Colorado in a 48-23 loss to Arizona State in the desert.
Mike Bercovici tied a career high with five touchdown passes and Tim White set career highs with seven catches for 144 yards and two scores. The Sun Devils also got some fortuitous bounces, as one of Bercovici's scores came off a deflected ball that landed in White's hands and went 45 yards.
ASU (4-2, 2-1 Pac-12) won its second straight conference game on the heels of a 38-23 upset of then-No. 7 UCLA last week. The Buffaloes (3-3, 0-2) lost their 13th straight conference road game, stretching back to the 2012 season, and are 0-7 all-time against the Sun Devils.
"We cannot shoot ourselves in the foot and expect to win a Pac-12 football game," CU coach Mike MacIntyre said. "We've got to find a way to coach it better and play it better. You're not going to win with that many turnovers. That's the bottom line."
A turnover that wasn't happened when ASU's Demario Richard swerved in and out of tacklers on a short run. The Buffaloes' Leo Jackson stripped it away, but it bounced toward tight end Kody Kohl, who scooped it up and ran into the end zone.
In the third quarter, CU cornerback Ahkello Witherspoon's pass deflection went to White, who raced down the sideline to give the Sun Devils a 31-10 lead.
Colorado's Sefo Liufau had 389 yards passing, with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Devin Ross in the third quarter and an interception thrown early in the first. Kareem Orr stepped in front of Liufau's floater and returned it 30 yards to the Colorado 15. That set up Bercovici's 4-yard touchdown pass to Kohl with 8:33 left, giving ASU a 14-0 lead.
Liufau had a 42-yard hookup with Sean Irwin where the tight end hung in for the ball despite the impending hit from a Sun Devil defender. It set up Phillip Lindsay's nifty 16-yard run touchdown run. Lindsay started inside then cut to the outside to get into the end zone and cut ASU's lead to 14-7 with 7:12 to go in the first.
That was as close as Colorado would get for the rest of the game, as White caught Bercovici's 38-yard touchdown pass to top off a two-play, 47-second possession and give ASU a 24-7 lead.
The ASU defense sacked Liufau eight times as the Sun Devils improved to 21-9 in Pac-12 South play since 2012.
"You have to put a huge freaking chip on your shoulder because I don't want to take any steps backward," Liufau said. "I think we had a pretty good start to the season and I don't want to go back to last year or even the year before that, because that's really frustrating."
The Sun Devils were able to take more chances with the pass rush because of their big lead.
"We were kind of playing behind the eight ball and they knew it, so they could kind of attack a little bit," MacIntyre said.
Lindsay's 2-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter made the score 41-23. Lindsay's 51 yards rushing led Colorado. Shay Fields had five catches for 103 yards.
"Really the story. was controlling the line of scrimmages, and really pleased with our special teams play," ASU coach Todd Graham said. "We're right where we need to be."