Arizona State (5-4, 3-3) has had an up-and-down season but hopes to find its A-game against USC (6-3, 4-3). The Trojans have other plans, though, and will try to end their current two-game skid.
The Sun Devils have flashed solid defense at times this season, but they've also given up 43 points in one half to Oregon and 45 points to UCLA. Both teams succeeded with strong ground games and a complementary passing attack.
Southern Cal will lean on its passing game. The only team to find success with a more one-dimensional passing attack was Missouri.
It was an ugly win for the Tigers, and their offensive production was limited, but their success came mostly via Corbin Berkstresser's arm.
When: Saturday, Nov. 10 at 3:33 p.m. ET
Where: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Watch: Pac-12 Network
Stream: Pac-12 Network
Radio: Free Football Radio
Current Betting Lines (via OddsShark)
Money Line: Arizona State +275, USC -335
Spread: USC -9
Some power rankings have Arizona State ranked higher than USC. A few mocks even show an ASU win on Saturday. The upset wouldn't be a total shock, but it would be a surprise.
Aside from a road loss to Missouri, the Sun Devils have played fairly well this season. They have the talent to beat most teams in the Pac-12 and could shock the Trojans.
I am taking the Trojans. As long as they play near their potential, they will cover the spread. If they struggle, they will be just as likely to lose as to win and not cover the spread, making the money line on ASU a tempting hedge bet.
My early projection for this game made it difficult to consider the under as a viable option. Oddsmakers set the figure about as high as they could for this matchup, but I don't think it is high enough.
Both of these offenses can score 50 points in a game, and I don't anticipate much defense in this matchup.
Key Injuries (via USA Today)
Andrew Sampson, OL, Ankle, Questionable
Christian Thomas, TE, Hip, Day-to-Day
Cody Temple, DT, Ankle, Out for Season
David Farness, T, Back, Out for Season
Scott Starr, LB, Neck, Out for Season
Brian Baucham, CB, Lung, Out for Season
Devon Kennard, DE, Pectoral, Out for Season
The division winner will have a difficult challenge waiting for it, but the Rose Bowl will be just one game away.
Keys to Sun Devil Victory
The Trojans aren't exactly known for playing stout defense. The Sun Devils should be able to score on the unit but must do so while playing mistake-free ball. They can't afford to let too many possessions slip by without putting points on the board.
ASU needs to attempt to control time of possession as well. It can't keep putting its defense on the field with USC, or the unit will tire.
Unfortunately, Arizona State doesn't have a solid ground game to help chew up clock. It'll need to rely on high-percentage passes to keep the clock ticking.
Keys to Trojan Victory
USC needs its dominant passing attack to succeed with or without the balance of a ground game.
Marqise Lee and Robert Woods are a talented duo that create matchup issues for any secondary. Matt Barkley rounds out the high-powered scoring machine.
There are few teams that can keep up with USC in a track meet and few defenses that can slow the offense down. Arizona State doesn't figure to be either of those.
This game has all the signs of a high-scoring gridiron battle. Both teams have quality passing games but lack defense.
The Trojan receivers figure to create matchup issues for Arizona State. Lee and Woods will get separation and pick up yardage. The Sun Devils aren't likely to be able to contain them for long, and the game could turn on a few big plays.
USC has won 11 of the last 12 games in this series.
Predicted Score: USC 48, Arizona State 34
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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