USC Football: Will the Favored Trojans Beat the Arizona State Sun Devils?

Use your ← → (arrow) keys to browse more stories
USC Football: Will the Favored Trojans Beat the Arizona State Sun Devils?
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Both the University of Southern California (USC) Trojans and the Arizona State (ASU) Sun Devils have played very good or very bad this year. 

The team that doesn’t give away the game will win this Saturday at 7:30pm PT at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

The Trojans are currently favored by 5.5 points and have a good home advantage if the fans support the team like the Oregon game.  Even the referees seem to be fair to USC at the Coliseum after the Stanford Cardinals debacle.

USC is 5-3 (2-3 in Pac-10) with losses against Oregon Ducks (No. 1*), and last second losses to Stanford (No. 10/13*) and Washington Huskies.

ASU is 4-4 (2-3 in Pac-10) with losses against Wisconsin Badgers (No. 7/9*), Oregon (No. 1*), Oregon State Beavers and California Golden Bears. 

ASU is coming off a 42-0 victory over Washington State Cougars after getting badly beaten by California 50-17.

The Sun Devils played well in losses against highly ranked Wisconsin 20-19 (due to a late blocked extra point that would have tied the game) and Oregon 42-31 (due to seven turnovers).  ASU also lost a close game to the Oregon State 31-28 (due to three intercepted passes).

The Sun Devils were impressive in victories over Washington 24-14 (USC lost to them 32-31) and Washington State 42-0.

USC lost to Oregon last week 53-32, although a goal line interception with five minutes left prevented the Trojans from closing the gap to seven points and giving them a chance to win the game. 

The Trojans snap miscommunication and fumble earlier with USC leading 17-15 seemed to turn the game.  "That fumble on the center snap when Matt (Barkley) looked at coach (Lane Kiffin), that was the key," tailback Marc Tyler said.

Kiffin said “I didn’t call a very good game.  Crazy as it sounds, yes, our defense played well enough to win.  Our defense made some mistakes. We didn't play great. But if we would have done what should have on offense, we could have won the game."

USC beat California (Cal beat ASU 50-17 on October 23) in its previous game 48-14 after a 42-0 half time lead.

The below average game statistics show that USC is the better offensive team with more balance and a slight edge on special teams, and ASU has the better defense, but more turnovers. 

The Sun Devils have an up-tempo spread offense that has been a Trojan weakness. 

Of course, these average stats may be misleading because neither team has played with any consistency.

Category

USC

Ranking

Arizona State

Ranking

Rushing Offense (Yards)

  200.5

   21

  139.0

   81

Passing Offense (Yards)

  278.9

   21

  293.3

   16

Total Offense (Yards)

  479.4

   13

  432.3

   28

Scoring Offense (Points)

   36.8

   15

   32.0

   34

Passing Efficiency (Percent)

  152.7

   24

  130.9

   60

Sacks allowed (Number)

   1.13

   25

    2.38

   86

Rushing Defense (Yards)

  151.4

   59

  109.4

   15

Pass Defense (Yards)

  275.8

  114

  231.1

   81

Total Defense (Yards)

  427.1

   98

  340.5

   38

Scoring Defense (Points)

   27.9

   79

   23.3

   54

Pass Efficiency Defense (Percent)

  140.3

   93

  126.1

   66

Sacks (Number)

    2.0

  T-56

    2.0

  T-56

Tackles for Loss (Number)

    6.3

   44

    7.9

  T-7

Net Punting (Yards/Punt)

   37.0

   51

   36.1

   66

Punt Returns  (Yards)

   19.3

    4

   11.0

   34

Kickoff Returns (Yards)

   24.2

   25

   25.4

  17

Turnover Margin

     .13

   49

    -.88

  T-107

 

The Trojans are changing the offensive line due to poor play against Oregon. 

Coach Lane Kiffin said the Trojans "played as bad up front as I've seen in my seven years of being here." He described the play of left guard Butch Lewis as “completely unacceptable.” 

Harry How/Getty Images

Junior Michael Reardon (Orange Luthern High) will most likely start at left guard this week.

Coach Kiffin is looking for a line with “consistency and playing the style we want to play.”  He said, “We looked back at that game, then we pulled some film from earlier in the year, and we don’t even look the same—our effort, taking the easy way out.” 

The USC line rarely did the cut blocking that the run game is built on, so the running backs average a subpar 4.1 years per carry and were even less effective later in the game.

Redshirt junior Marshall Jones appears to be taking over for incumbent Jawanza Starling, at least in some packages.  Other secondary positions are open to competition as well.

Weak side linebacker Malcolm Smith will also be back after missing most the past three games.

Both teams are inconsistent, so the winner is likely to be the team that makes the fewest mistakes.

Turnovers and penalties have plagued both teams.

Both teams have also played very well in other games.

USC needs to start fast with a consistent offense and score and get some stops on defense to keep the crowd support and make ASU play catch-up.  If the Trojans can do this with a positive turnover margin and minimize penalties, they will win.

Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Trojans can be unstoppable on offense and good enough on defense to beat any team when they play well. 

Matt Barkley, fullback Stanley Havili, running backs Marc Tyler and Allen Bradford, receivers Ronald Johnson and Robert Woods and the OL are going to have a better game against ASU. 

The USC defense has played relatively well the past two games so they need to keep improving especially against the ASU pass offense.

ASU is more turnover prone than USC, but needs to do the same things as USC to win. The Sun Devils have not beaten the Trojans since 1999 giving up close to 37 points a game in five losses in Los Angeles. 

ASU Junior receiver Gerell Robinson said, “This is definitely a statement game for our program and this should really tell us how we fit in with the rest of the Pac-10, regardless if they are bowl eligible or not.”

USC has a shot at 10-3, and this would be a terrific improvement over 2009 especially considering this is a first year staff coming off the most tumultuous off season in college football history.

Both teams need to win this game so it will be hard fought and exciting.

The difference may be the Trojan fans, and they need to support the team like the Oregon game. 

Harry How/Getty Images

However, there will be one less hoarse fan after the game, because I will be in the press box for the first time and cheering is not allowed.  This will be very hard to do, so thanks to the other fans who cheer especially loud.

Are the favored Trojans going to beat the Sun Devils this week?  Please share your predictions and reasons.

 

* Week 10 AP Poll / BCS Ranking

Load More Stories

Follow USC Football from B/R on Facebook

Follow USC Football from B/R on Facebook and get the latest updates straight to your newsfeed!

USC Football

Subscribe Now

We will never share your email address

Thanks for signing up.