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ASU vs. USC: Players to watch

With Jaxon Hood out, the defense will have to carry more than their fair share of the load against a potentially potent Trojan ground game. Look out for these players to gauge which team will have success Saturday night.

Will the USC defense be able to stop the high powered ASU offense?
Will the USC defense be able to stop the high powered ASU offense?
Stephen Lam

Two seasons ago, Arizona State took down USC with 22 unanswered second half points to win 43-22. Last year the Sun Devils took a trip to the Coliseum and fell at the swords of the Trojans, 38-17, as Matt Barkley was too much for the Arizona State defense to handle. Now it's time to settle the score.

This season, USC's offense has an incredibly large amount of potential that has yet to be unleashed this season. On the other side of the ball, the Trojan defense is widely touted as one of the stiffest tests in the country.

This game could come down to the conditioning of Arizona State's defense against the USC offense. But the Devils will have to get it done without Jaxon Hood, Chans Cox, Junior Onyeali and A.J. Latu. Even with the injuries piling up, Arizona State still has plenty of players who can make a difference Saturday:

Arizona State Sun Devils

Salamo Fiso, Linebacker

The six-foot, 225-pound redshirt freshman linebacker had four tackles against Stanford but seemed to be lurking around on every play. He'll finally get the starting job this week over Steffon Martin.

Despite his small size for a linebacker, Fiso more than makes up for it with what seemingly never-ending-motor. His nine total tackles on the season is tied with Will Sutton and ahead of Hood. The struggles of Cody Kessler could make USC run the ball more. If that is the case, Fiso can make a big impact and solidify his starting spot on Saturday night.

Gannon Conway, nose tackle

You read that correctly, Conway at nose tackle. Todd Graham expressed the need to use Conway in the middle of the line after Jaxon Hood went down with a hamstring injury against Stanford.

Conway is 280 pounds so he should be able to handle his own but look for Marcus Hardison and Davon Coleman to rotate in as well, according to Graham. The other options include Mo Latu who can only play limited snaps due to his size and Jake Sheffied, who was the first option last weekend after Hood went out but couldn't get the job done. Conway has only logged five total tackles this season but his size in the middle should help stop the USC run.

Tyler Sulka, offensive tackle

It's not as much about Sulka as it is who will be across the line. Can the first-year starter weighing in at 277 pounds stop the onslaught of USC defensive ends George Uko and Leonard Williams?

The duo have combined for 31 tackles and six sacks already this season for the Trojans. Williams weighs in at 290 while Uko is more evenly matched at 275 pounds. Regardless, the offensive line's performance against Stanford was suspect at best and Sulka will need to step up in order for the Sun Devils to have success.

USC Trojans

Marqise Lee, wide receiver

Lee is the best at what he does on the college football level; it's that simple. Lee holds 22 USC records as well as a unanimous All-American selection, a Biletnikoff Award and Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Year honors.

This season Lee already has 23 receptions for 293 yards and a touchdown averaging 12.7 yards per reception despite the quarterback woes of the Trojans. Arizona State head coach Todd Graham has already stated that Osahon Irabor will be tasked with covering Lee Saturday night.

Dion Bailey, safety

The Trojan safety always seems to be around the ball. He currently leads the Trojans in tackles with 24 and has two interceptions already this season as well. Jaelen Strong's ability will certainly be tested with Bailey helping out on coverage over the top.

Taylor Kelly will have to be almost completely certain on his throws as freshman safety Su'a Cravens will also be lurking in the defensive backfield.

Lamar Dawson, linebacker

The junior has 19 tackles so far this season. He also wears No. 55 for USC, a number reserved for the finest Trojans. Past Trojans to wear it include Junior Seau and Willie McGinest. Dawson will play inside linebacker and play a key role in stopping the Sun Devils uptempo attack. If Dawson can continue to stifle, Marion Grice, Arizona State's game plan could be in serious jeopardy.