ASU vs. USC recap: Devils erupt in second half, roll 62-41

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

Arizona State could have scrapped the 20 points it scored in the first half and still beat USC. How's that for a resounding victory?

In the span of one half, Arizona State incinerated the No. 4 defense in the country, setting the program record for the most points ever scored against USC en route to a 62-41 victory.

Two late takeaways from Osahon Irabor and Alden Darby gave the Sun Devils a slim 20-14 lead entering the half despite the Trojans' impressive offensive output.

But when USC head coach Lane Kiffin exited the locker room, he left any ounce of remaining job security behind.

Things looked ominous at first when USC marched down the field in 46 seconds to retake the lead 21-20 on a 24-yard Tre Madden rush. From there though, the Devils proceeded to hang 28 points on the Trojans before the clock hit 0:00 on the third quarter.

After missing on his first pass to Jaelen Strong, Taylor Kelly connected with D.J. Foster on a 74-yard catch-and-run to give ASU back the lead.

Rather than matching blows, USC quarterback Cody Kessler proceeded to toss a freebie to Darby. Arizona State's emotional leader returned the interception 46 yards up the sideline for a touchdown all while performing his best balancing act. And for those keeping track at home, that's Darby's second consecutive year with a pick-six against the Trojans.

One USC three-and-out later, Kelly would get the party started on a 30-yard quarterback keeper up the gut of the defense (his second 30+ yard rush of the game). Not long after, Marion Grice took Kelly's short toss eight yards to score on a stretching touchdown. And just because it's all he knows how to do, Grice found the end zone again two possessions later to build ASU's lead up to 48-21 with 2:32 remaining in the third.

From there, the rest was just a formality.

USC did make things a bit interesting to start the fourth scoring 14 unanswered points. But when Grice found pay dirt for the fourth time in the evening with 7:09 remaining, the game was as good as done.

Entering this contest, the Trojans had only allowed a combined 44 points to their first four opponents. The Sun Devils scored 42 points in the second half alone.

Arizona State compiled 612 yards of total offense while scoring on all seven of their red zone opportunities. And the individual stats are almost too vast to mention.

One week after setting his career-high in passing yards, Kelly came 16 yards short of matching it, finishing the game with 351 yards, three touchdowns and one interception on 23-of-34 passing. His 79 yards rushing were also two yards shy of tying his career-high on the ground. While it's difficult to put everything into perspective so early, Kelly's performance should go down as one of the most impressive in the history of the program for a quarterback.

But he certainly didn't do it alone. Strong registered his third consecutive game with a 100+ yards, finishing the night with seven catches, 103 yards and a handful of acrobatic catches.

And of course, there was Grice being Grice. Plain and simple, the man just has a knack for the end zone. The senior scoring-machine tied his career-high with four scores while also pitching in 101 total yards. Through 17 games at Arizona State, Grice has racked up 31 total touchdowns. That's the type of statistic that gets you into the Heisman conversation.

It was great to see Chris Coyle get into the action early and often too. Entering the game with only 73 yards on the year, Coyle rediscovered his mojo with 87 yards on five catches.

On the defensive side, you don't like to see the Devils allowing 542 yards. But you have to cut them a bit of a break considering they were missing their second best space-eater in Jaxon Hood (hamstring).

In the end, they simply made plays when they needed to. Darby's pick-six was undoubtedly the turning point of the game and it was great to see the sack game get going.

Will Sutton, Gannon Conway, Davon Coleman and Carl Bradford each registered a QB take down which is particularly huge considering the front seven only had two entering Saturday. Yes, Tre Madden and Justin Davis were the epitome of explosive but the stops behind the line begin to pile up in the second half (nine tackles for loss overall).

Looking ahead, the Devils have a big national matchup against Notre Dame on tap. At this point, it's not looking like the Irish will be ranked after falling to Oklahoma. But Arizona State is a lock to leap back into the top 25 and it could be as high as the 20-22 range.

So, what do you think? Is this enough to erase the embarrassment of Stanford? Tell us in the comments below!

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