Arizona State-USC: The Preview

Kristian SiutaCorrespondent IINovember 7, 2009

TEMPE, AZ - SEPTEMBER 15: Head coach Dennis Erickson of the Arizona State Sun Devils works on the sidelines during the game with the San Diego State Aztecs on September 15, 2007 at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe, Arizona. Arizona State won 34-13. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

Arizona State and USC will be knocking heads tonight at Sun Devil Stadium, both looking to get back into the win column.

ASU has lost two straight games, to Stanford and California. USC, on the other hand, was embarrassed last Saturday night, in Eugene by the Ducks.

One team has to win. One team has plenty of talent, plenty of firepower, and the championship hardware to show their worth.

The other team on the field, Arizona State, is looking to take a step towards the success of where the Trojans are at currently. But that step has to be a step forward not backwards. 

Arizona State has not played well against USC since the Dirk Koetter era in Tempe. The last time USC was even threatened by the Sun Devils came in 2006, when ASU took the Trojans to the final whistle in a 28-21 loss in the Coliseum.

And the season before that, when the Trojans visited Tempe, the Sun Devils took a 21-3 halftime lead, only to relinquish a victory to Pete Carroll and USC 38-28. 

The talent for USC is far superior to the Sun Devils talent, and the recruiting wars between these two schools have been heated lately with the Trojans stealing the best of the best in Arizona.

Those top-tier players in Arizona, have been selecting USC for the past few seasons such as Everson Griffin, Kristofer O'Dowd, and Devon Kennard, but last season, Arizona State stole a home grown California talent, Vontaze Burfict. So far, Burfict has not disappointed.  

Now with all of this talent, there are going to be superstars all over the field making plays, so are the players to watch tonight? 


Arizona State Player to Watch 

Kyle Williams WR 

Kyle Williams returned from his hamstring injury last week against California and exploded for an eighty-yard touchdown reception that tied the game at 14 last Saturday.

If the Sun Devils look to have any success tonight, the passing game is going to have to keep improving, and finding Williams and Chris McGaha for big plays. 

Some teams like to set up the passing game with the running game, tonight might be a little bit different for the Sun Devils. Especially after Oregon torched USC last week on the ground.

USC is going to be more aware of the running game for ASU, and the Sun Devils don't have anywhere close to the production out of their quarterback and running back positions.

But, the passing game will be where the Sun Devils will have to break some big plays on the Trojans. 


USC Player to Watch

Joe McKnight RB 

McKnight has averaged 6.4 yards per carry this season and seven touchdowns. The Sun Devils showed that they can shutdown a shifty, speedy back last week in CAL's Jahvid Best, but this is McKnight and the USC offensive line.

If the Sun Devils cannot stop the run, then the USC Trojans will run away with this one. 

McKnight has to be limited in the big play department, and the person that will have to step up to shut down the running game will be middle linebacker Vontaze Burfict.

If the Sun Devils can force USC to pass the ball on long third-down situations, that will be the only way that ASU stays close in this game. 


The Prediction 

The Sun Devils have played very tough this season in big games against Georgia, California, and Washington. However, ASU only earned a victory in one of those contests, and that came on a last second 50-yard pass to win the game. The theme this season has been about effort.

The Sun Devils have given effort and fought hard in their contests, but just have not been able to squeak out a victory, and a perfect example is last weekend vs. California. 

But Southern California is a totally different animal, Pete Carroll will not allow for another let down this week on the road.

The Sun Devils do not have the firepower offensively to pressure the Trojans' offense to score every time they touch the ball.

Arizona State will have to run long time consuming drives and finish with touchdowns and not field goals, but it will not be easy. That Trojan defense will not allow another 600 plus yard performance by an opponent, and especially not Arizona State. 

Final Score : USC 37, Arizona State 24

Sun Devil Stadium 

6 PM MT 

ABC Regional Broadcast


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