Every season there are a few games that Arizona State football fans have circled on the schedule. Obviously the team down South is always a must-win game. However, the USC Trojans is another game that ASU fans circle when the college football schedule comes out.
The game against the Trojans often ends in frustration for the Sun Devil faithful. Arizona State is just 1-9 against USC in the past 10 games. Fans remember in 2005 when ASU took a 21-3 lead into halftime against Reggie Bush and company. The Trojans outscored the Sun Devils 35-7 in the second half on their way to a victory in Sun Devil Stadium on national television.
When the two teams met in 2011, ASU had not beat USC since 1999. The Sun Devils, led by Vontaze Burfict, routed the Trojans in front of the home crowd on their way to a 43-22 victory. Brock Osweiler threw for 223 yards and two touchdowns and the ASU defense forced four turnovers.
Previous Meeting (November 10th, 2012 - 38-17 USC)
The Sun Devils went into the coliseum last November riding a three-game losing streak. The Sun Devils struck first on a Taylor Kelly touchdown pass to Chris Coyle in the first quarter. USC tied the game at 14 just before the half with a Matt Barkley touchdown pass to Xavier Grimble.
The second half was all USC as the Trojans outscored the Sun Devils 24-3 in the final two quarters. Taylor Kelly threw three interceptions and the Sun Devils only rushed for 71 yards on 35 attempts.
Why is it Important?
The Sun Devils face the Trojans on September 28th in the friendly confines of Sun Devil Stadium. The game is sandwiched in between a road game against Stanford and ASU's neutral site game against Dallas.
The Trojans went 1-5 in their final six games last season, with the only victory coming when the flexed their muscles against the Sun Devils that day in November.
This is a game that the Sun Devils could very well overlook. The Sun Devils play perennial power Notre Dame in front of a national audience the next week. The Trojans are ranked No. 24 in the initial USA Today Coaches Poll, which came as a surprise to many Sun Devil fans.
The USC Trojans are just a puzzle that Arizona State has not seemed to figure out. Only one victory since 1999 and a 21-point loss last season to a reeling USC team.
This is also a key game in the Pac-12 South, as the Trojans were picked to finish right behind the Sun Devils in the conference media poll. We know how talented USC is and if they can put it together they are a dangerous team in the conference.
How winnable is the game?
The biggest question mark for USC is who will be getting snaps under center this season. Whoever is throwing passes, Lee will be their favorite target. As a sophomore, Lee caught 10 passes for 161 yards and a touchdown. Shutting down Lee will be hard for the Sun Devils and Nelson Agular is emerging on the other side as well.
USC is a question mark this season because on paper they may be a top-10 team. The way the team folded at the end of las season, and with uncertainty at quarterback USC may be vulnerable early in the season.
The key for ASU in this game will be the running game. Last season, the Sun Devils only mustered 71 rushing yards and 15 total first downs.