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No. 22 Arizona State stumbles past lowly Colorado

BOULDER, Colo. (AP) -- Dirk Koetter left Folsom Field feeling
good about his quarterback and bad for Dan Hawkins.

"I told him to hang in there. I've been where he's at. I know
what he's going through," Koetter said after No. 22 Arizona State
beat Colorado 21-3 Saturday.

Koetter went 4-7 in his first season at ASU, when his top
assistant, Hawkins, replaced him at Boise State. Now, Hawkins is
hoping to follow Koetter's lead and guide a big-time program back
to prominence.

Hawkins, however, is off to an 0-3 start because of an inept
offense that has managed just 23 points so far, the fewest by
Colorado through three weeks since 1964.

"Dan Hawkins is a heck of a football coach," Koetter said.
"Colorado made a very wise choice when they hired him. They've got
to keep doing what they're doing."

Sun Devils quarterback Rudy Carpenter was often off-target but
still threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns Arizona State's
bumbling win.

"The defense played great but the offense played terrible,"
Carpenter said.

Not so fast, Koetter said.

"When we can win 21-3 on the road at a Big 12 school and not
play our best on offense because Rudy doesn't play his best, I
think that says a lot about where we're at," Koetter said. "Rudy
did not play his best tonight, but I think he's still 7-1 [as a
starter]. I'll take that guy as my quarterback any day of the
week."

After leading the nation in passing efficiency last season,
Carpenter knows people expect perfection.

"I think I feel that way, [too]. Obviously, I want to play the
best I can every week and play perfect," he said. "Obviously,
that's never going to happen, but that's something you've got to
work toward."

Carpenter, whose career TD-to-interception ratio was a sparkling
24-4 entering the game, was picked off twice and finished 21-of-37
passing, but the Sun Devils (3-0) left Boulder unbeaten because
again Colorado's offense couldn't do enough to reward a stellar
defensive effort.

For the third straight game, the Buffs failed to score after
halftime.

"We're making strides," Hawkins said. "Those strides need to
be bigger, faster and harder."

Although this was the first meeting between the schools, the
game had the look and feel of a longtime rivalry with both sides
familiar with each other, and for good reason -- the coaches used to
work together at Boise State.

Moreover, Hawkins' offensive coordinator, Mark Helfrich, spent
eight years under Koetter before coming to Boulder this year.
Helfrich's insight into ASU, however, couldn't prevent Colorado's
losing streak from reaching seven, the Buffs' longest skid since
they opened 0-7 in 1980.

The Sun Devils, who entered play with 13 sacks, tops in the
nation, added four more Saturday, all on third down, which negated
the modest improvements made by the Buffaloes' sputtering offense
in Week 3.

Carpenter then floated a 5-yard TD toss to tight end Zach Miller
with 1:33 left. Miller's 12th career TD, which broke the school
mark set by Joe Petty (1970-72) for most touchdowns by a tight end
in school history, was set up by a fumbled punt.

With regular returner Stephone Robinson (shoulder) in the
trainer's room, freshman Cha'pelle Brown fumbled a punt at his
20-yard line with 3:55 remaining.

Keegan Herring rushed nine times for 92 yards and Ryan Torain
added 80 yards on 18 carries for ASU.

Torain scored on an 8-yard run and Chris McGaha had an 18-yard
TD catch to give the Sun Devils a 14-3 lead after a first half in
which they turned the ball over three times, twice near the goal
line.

After George Hypolite recovered Shaun DeWitty's fumble at the
Buffaloes 17 in the opening minutes, Mason Crosby gave CU a 3-0
lead with a 29-yard field goal. He later was wide left from 57
yards, just his third miss in 15 fourth-quarter attempts.

CU linebacker Jordon Dizon never turned to look for the ball on
McGaha's TD catch. He plowed into the freshman wide receiver just
as McGaha hauled in Carpenter's perfectly thrown pass for a 14-3
lead.

Carpenter was intercepted by safety J.J. Billingsley at the
Buffs' 2 less than a minute before halftime.

Colorado had its own troubles down by the end zone -- safety Zach
Catanese punched the ball out of quarterback Bernard Jackson's
hands just as he was about to reach across the goal line in the
second quarter and ASU safety Josh Barrett recovered.

"I thought I was in," said Jackson, who finished 8-of-18 for
86 yards and an interception in his second career start.

"We're learning on the run with him and he's learning on the
run," Hawkins said.

Junior Hugh Charles got his first start for the Buffs since
Hawkins replaced Gary Barnett in the offseason and ran for 109
yards on 20 carries and caught two passes for a team-high 30 yards.