After joining the AP top 25 last week at No. 22, the Arizona Sun Devils failed to continue their Pac-12 title run when they were stopped by the Fighting Illini in Champaign.
All is not lost though, as the Sun Devils have a familiar foe this week.
The No. 23 USC Trojans (3-0) will be visiting Tempe, AZ to take on the Sun Devils (2-1).
After an OK game against the Missouri Tigers, where the Sun Devils gave up a huge lead to finally win in overtime, and a loss to Illinois, the Devils will need to play at their highest level this week against USC to become relevant once again.
There is still potential if the Devils upset USC, so here are five things Dennis Erickson and the Arizona State Sun Devils need to get right in Week 4 to get things rolling right once again.
Things did not look the same for Brock Osweiler against the Illini as they did against Mizzou.
Osweiler met the ground six times, and he was under pressure the entire game. Osweiler felt rushed to get rid of the ball, which led to two interceptions, one of which was tipped by a defensive lineman.
The Sun Devils need to look at the tape from this game. The Illini linebackers were fast, and the Trojans will be just as fast, or even faster.
Osweiler has a huge arm and a high IQ, so if they can give him the time he needs, the Sun Devils can get it down.
Cameron Marshall has not looked like the All-American running back he was said to be.
So far this season, the Sun Devils have been a one-dimensional team, and other teams are catching on.
Osweiler has the skill set to be a great quarterback, but Marshall has the skill sets to be an outstanding running back.
Marshall has left each game with a minor injury, but he has usually been back in the game before it is over. So, first things first, he has to stay healthy.
The other issue is that the offensive line is just not giving him the opportunity. It goes with Osweiler's sacks and pressure hand in hand. If the o-line doesn't pick it up, the ball is not going to go anywhere.
Marshall had 61 yards on 22 attempts against Missouri, and 69 yards on 13 attempts against Illinois. The Illinois numbers are not terrible, and perhaps they would have been higher if he didn't get injured.
Either way, Cameron Marshall needs to get the ball moving on the ground to get the Devils moving up the rankings.
There is no question in anyone's mind that Vontaze Burfict has the biggest effect on the defensive side of the ball for Arizona State.
The thing is, he affects them positively and negatively.
On a positive note, he is arguably the best linebacker in the NCAA. He can get all over the field, and as a Bears fan, he reminds me a lot of Brian Urlacher. That is saying a lot.
The thing is though, that Burfict is an emotional player. Now that is great, because he has the passion that fans love to see, but the problem is he lets it get to his head.
Against Illinios, Burfict had an extremely stupid penalty late in the game. If it wasn't for that penalty, the Illini would not have been in such good field position, and it really was one of the few controllable game-changing moments.
He can't let these situations continue to happen, or else the Sun Devils will be in deep trouble.
Vontaze Burfict has all the talent and emotion to propel the Arizona State Sun Devils' defense over the USC Trojans, but he must use it efficiently.
Against Missouri, the Sun Devils threw the ball 33 times and ran it another 31 times.
Against Illinois, they threw the ball 45 times and ran it 34 times.
The Sun Devils became too predictable with the pass.
There was no room for Jamal Miles surprise touchdown passes, or any effective play action, because the Illini were all over the aerial attack.
Arizona State has great receivers, but they also have a great backfield.
They need to utilize it.
With pieces like Cameron Marshall, Kyle Middlebrooks and Jamal Miles, the Sun Devils are able to erupt with the pass or in the backfield.
It worked against Mizzou, so it should be something they stick with.
USC needs to be surprised, and so do the Arizona State fans.
Dennis Erickson has been around football for a long time.
By the way Arizona State racks up penalties, one questions the mentality he teaches.
During the Illinois game, Arizona State had 8 penalties for a total of 91 yards. That is just ridiculous. The offensive line was shaky, with holding and false start calls all over the place.
If this is going to be a BCS team, Coach Erickson and his staff need to teach his players to avoid penalties, because they are bringing the Devils down.
Against Missouri, Arizona State had 12 penalties for 110 yards, and those who watched the game know that was the reason for ASU losing their huge lead.
If ASU can fix their penalty issue, which has been an ongoing issue for years, they won't lose good field position, and they should be poised to stay in the games.
It's a tall order, but the Sun Devils need to get that straight to get into the top 25.