Well, nobody in the Washington Huskies camp is positively certain about what broke down on Arizona State's final touchdown – a 50-yard pass from Danny Sullivan to Chris McGaha with no one in sight.
When pressed, UW coach Steve Sarkisian simply explained the Huskies were in a 3-deep zone, and that safety Nate Williams jumped a crossing route – leaving the deep middle wide open.
Lined up in the right slot in a four-receiver ASU set, McGaha was met 5 yards into his route by strong safety Victor Aiweya, who let him go. Cornerback Desmond Trufant was also on that side.
"We were just trying to get something about 18, 20 yards so that we would have a chance for Thomas (Weber) to kick a field goal," Sullivan said. "We had the inside guy kind of going the opposite hash and their safety went for him. I was (McGaha) running over here running, wide open, and just told myself, 'Do not overthrow this!'"
He didn't, sending the ASU side into a cheering frenzy with 24-17 Pacific-10 Conference victory in hand at Sun Devil Stadium – its sixth in a row over the Huskies in the series.
"We just messed up our last play, pretty much," said Trufant, who tried giving chase at the UW 10-yard line, but to no avail.
Said Adam Long, the cornerback on the other side: "All I could do was freeze, and hope for the best. … I was just hoping he would drop it."
Of course, this game had so much drama and missed opportunity – all the Vontaze Burfict personal-foul penalties, to the unsportsmanlike conduct call on the UW sideline (defensive coordinator Nich Holt, perhaps?), to the ridiculous instant replays, and play stoppages – that pinpointing the final play as the sole cause for the defeat would be a little unfair.
The series that Sarkisian was left second-guessing himself – and admitted so afterward – was not calling a run play on third-and-short from the Huskies' 19 with under 30 seconds remaining.
Instead, Jake Locker fired deep to James Johnson, overthrowing him by a good 5-10 yards.
Yes, ASU could have called timeout if the Huskies failed to convert a run play. But it almost appeared coach Dennis Erickson would have let the clock run out, and take his chances in overtime. The clock stoppage on the incompletion gave them new life.
As far as the Burfict being the major culprit in the team's eight major penalties, UW players knew coming in that the true freshman had a salty reputation of issuing cheap shots, which he did in the second half trying to throw a forearm to receiver James Johnson.
Erickson said afterward that Burfict is only emotional like that on the field.
"It shows on film he's a real hot-head," UW running back Chris Polk said.
• Some quick hit stuff: In somewhat of a surprise move, Aiyewa was in the starting defensive backfield at strong safety over Nate Fellner, shifting Williams over to the free-safety position vacated by Justin Glenn (broken leg). … Receiver Jordan Polk (knee) and defensive end Kalani Aldrich (knee) did not make the trip … Defensive tackle Cameron Elisara (neck) came out in the fourth quarter last week against Arizona – and was not in pads to start the second half. … Chris Polk missed a series or two in the second quarter. He said he reinjured the same shoulder as last week against Arizona. … Receiver Anthony Boyles saw his first career action on special teams late in the first quarter. … Erik Folk's string of field goals made was snapped at seven kicks after he missed a 48-yard attempt with 15 seconds remaining in the first half. … UW punter Will Mahan used a "rugby punt" style on his first attempt, and booted it 59 yards. … ASU registered an interception for the 15th consecutive game on Ryan McFoy's first-half pick. It's the NCAA's longest active streak. … Before Weber's miss on a 41-yard field goal early in the third quarter, opponents has been 17-of-17 on attempts this season. He later missed a 40-yarder in the fourth quarter.