Arizona State running back Eno Benjamin used the final game of the regular season to do what other Sun Devil football players haven’t been able to do for more than 40 years.
And he did it twice in the same game.
The junior running back from Wylie, Texas, gobbled up 168 yards rushing as his Sun Devils beat rival University of Arizona, 24-14, in the annual Territorial Cup game that closes out the regular season.
That’s better than any other ASU football player has done in any Territorial Cup game since Woody Green ran for 192 yards in 1973. Green, considered by many to be the best running back to wear the maroon & gold, only played three seasons in an injury-shortened career but rushed for at least 1,000 yards each season.
Benjamin also used the Arizona game to challenge the legacy of another legendary ASU runner. He used the 168 yards in that game and combined that with 14 other career 100-yard performances to become the first Sun Devil since Freddie Williams to rush for over 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons.
Williams, who passed away in 2014, set the bar for that offensive category back in 1975. “Fast Freddie” ran for 1,299 in 1974 and followed that up with the best season of his college career when he piled up 1,427 the next year.
That 1975 season has a special place in the ASU history books. That was the year the Devils went undefeated (12-0) in the regular season, and then beat Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.
Williams is No. 2 on the all-time ASU list for 100-yard games with 15. Green tops the list. That puts Benjamin in the company of legends. And he’s only a junior.
But you could see it coming. Last year as a sophomore he set a school single-season rushing record when he passed the old mark of 1,565 set in 1972 by… yep, Woody Green. Benjamin finished the 2018 season with 1,642 yards, better than any running back in the Pac-12 Conference and good enough for fifth place nationally.
Against Arizona on Saturday, Benjamin was the workhorse that carried the load for the Sun Devils. He had 34 carries, averaged just shy of five yards a carry, and put up two touchdowns. He also caught three passes for 14 additional yards.
A lot of credit also goes to the ASU offensive line that created the running lanes for Benjamin and dominated in the trenches, and a defense that contributed three interceptions, two by cornerback Jack Jones and another by linebacker Merlin Robertson.
But it was Benjamin that was named the Bob Moran Player of the Game in this Territorial Cup game. And that earned the 5’10”, 210-pound Texan yet another place in the ASU history books.
It was his second consecutive MVP award for the rivalry game, which makes him the only player to win the Bob Moran award more than once since it was created 18 years ago.
And that’s something Woody or Freddie didn’t do.
(Photo: ASU Athletics / Peter Vander Stoep)