USC vs. Arizona State: Turnovers Doom Southern Cal in the Desert

Ryne HodkowskiAnalyst ISeptember 25, 2011

Marshall returns an interception to seal USC's fate Saturday Night
Marshall returns an interception to seal USC's fate Saturday NightNorm Hall/Getty Images

USC ran the ball effectively, they threw the ball well, they controlled the clock and they outgained their opponent.  If you read that sentence alone, you would think they won the football game.  Instead, they lost to the Arizona State Sun Devils 43-22.

The errors came in the form of four turnovers. Three of them were inside the Arizona State 25-yard-line. The last was a pick-six from Matt Barkley once the Trojans fell behind 36-22.

Arizona State was able to move the ball relatively effectively and avoid the mistakes they are prone to making. They turned the ball over zero times, and had only six penalties.

Still, they found themselves in a predicament against USC. The Trojans were down 12 at halftime and opened the second half with an impressive 6-play, 65-yard TD drive.  After stopping Arizona State, the Trojans' put together a 10-play, 80-yard drive to pull ahead 22-21.

To say the Arizona State defense stiffened at this point would be a mispronunciation. From this point on, USC RB Marc Tyler fumbled on the ASU 25-yard-line, and Matt Barkley fumbled on the ASU 16-yard-line. Both fumbles occurred when the Trojans were trailing by 6-points. Both were huge.

To be certain, the Sun Devils deserve some credit. They stripped the ball from Tyler. They were able to pressure Barkley. They intercepted Barkley when they were up 14, with just six minutes to go. Their defense was opportunistic and it led to causing turnovers. Despite being outgained, the Sun Devils led in turnovers 4-0. That's why they were able to escape at home with a W.

The game was extremely important as far as the inaugural Pac-12 South race goes. Had USC won, they would be 2-0 in the conference, with wins over Utah and Arizona State. 

Instead, the Sun Devils now have the inside track to winning the Pac-12 South. 

You can thank USC's missteps for this.