Hyundai Sun Bowl: Arizona State Sun Devils vs. Duke Blue Devils




Season highlights: The transformative moment of Arizona State’s season was a shocking win against USC on a Hail Mary pass from backup quarterback Mike Bercovici to receiver Jaelen Strong -- Jael Mary! -- for a 38-34 victory. The Sun Devils, who were without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly, had suffered a dispiriting blowout loss the week before to UCLA, and the win against the Trojans became the first of five consecutive victories that put the Sun Devils into the Pac-12 South Division driver’s seat.

Season lowlights: Though the 62-27 defeat at home to UCLA on Sept. 25 was embarrassing, the 35-27 loss at Oregon State on Nov. 15 was both shocking and critical. The Beavers were struggling, coming off a loss to Washington State, and the Sun Devils controlled their own destiny in the South. Finally, the 42-35 loss at archrival Arizona not only cost the Sun Devils the South title but also gave it to those hated Wildcats.

Player to watch: The Sun Devils have a bit of a quarterback quandary, with starter Kelly getting replaced by Bercovici in the Arizona loss, so that merits watching. Whoever plays quarterback, he has plenty of help from Strong and running back D.J. Foster.

Motivation factor: The Sun Devils, though disappointed they weren’t able to defend their South crown, will be aiming for a second straight 10-win season under Todd Graham. They should be plenty motivated to end the season strong, particularly when the Sun Devils look like a potential front-runner in the South in 2015.

-- Ted Miller



Season highlights: Duke can no longer be considered a surprise, not when it has made three consecutive bowl trips for the first time ever. The Blue Devils also have won nine games in back-to-back seasons for the first time. Though they fell short of the Coastal title, this season qualifies as yet another success for coach David Cutcliffe. Their best win came against now-No. 12 Georgia Tech 31-25 in October, breaking a 10-game losing streak in the series. It ended up being the only win Duke had against a team with a winning record.

Season lowlights: It is a testament to the strides this program has made that some consider what happened in November a disappointment. Sitting atop the Coastal Division, all Duke had to do was beat Virginia Tech, North Carolina and Wake Forest at home to go back to the ACC championship game. But the Blue Devils stumbled in an ugly 17-16 loss to Virginia Tech in which they missed a go-ahead field goal with 2:26 left. Then the rival Tar Heels routed Duke the following Thursday, handing the division to Georgia Tech.

Player to watch: Receiver Jamison Crowder. The all-purpose Crowder still has a chance at a few school and ACC records in his final game for the Blue Devils. He needs seven receptions to tie former Duke receiver Conner Vernon (2009-12, 283 catches) for the ACC and school career marks. Crowder would tie Vernon's league and school records for career receiving yards with 210 in the bowl.

Motivation factor: Getting back to 10 wins, finishing in the top 25 and winning the bowl. Duke won 10 games in 2013 but ended up losing to Texas A&M in one of the best bowl games of last season. The Blue Devils ended last year on a two-game losing streak, so you have to believe getting to 10 with a bowl win is enough motivation.

-- Andrea Adelson