The book is out on Arizona State: contain running back Marion Grice and the Sun Devils look to be decidedly ordinary on offense.
Notre Dame kept Grice under wraps and came away with a 37-34 win over ASU in Arlington, Texas on Saturday. Grice rushed for 51 yards on 12 carries and had five receptions for 36 yards, scoring a 16-yard touchdown with 11 seconds left in the game.
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It was Grice's fifth receiving touchdown of the season, to go along with eight rushing scores. But the Fighting Irish's back seven was ready for the wheel routes, swing passes and screens that Grice used to carve up USC last week, forcing quarterback Taylor Kelly to try and carry ASU.
Instead, Kelly struggled to convert on third down and threw two fourth-quarter interceptions, one of which was returned 14 yards by ND linebacker Zach Fox for a touchdown. Kelly finished up 33-of-47 passing for 362 yards and three touchdowns.
Junior-college transfer Jaelen Strong caught eight passes for 136 yards and one touchdown.
Grice (6-foot, 207 pounds) quickly emerged as one of the most complete running backs in college football since arriving at ASU, but defenses are well aware of that. Grice is averaging just 3.89 yards per carry in ASU losses dating back to last season, compared to 6.29 yards per carry in wins.
Grice needs to show he can be that focal point of the offense when things are going wrong and talented opponents are determined to stop him, or else he might be typecast as a third-down back by NFL scouts.