If the third quarter of Saturday night's game wasn't the best quarter in Arizona State history, it came darn close. The Sun Devils scored 28 points en route to breaking open a 48-21 advantage heading into the stretch against a downtrodden USC team.
After falling behind 14-7 midway through the second quarter, the Sun Devils capitalized on two Trojans turnovers to take the lead. Arizona State worked the clock with precision at the end of the first half, but Michael Eubank failed to put the ball in the end zone on a third and one rush from the two-yard line.
Zane Gonzalez knocked home a 22-yard field goal as time expired and Arizona State carried a 20-14 lead into halftime.
The Trojans started the second half with the football and wasted little time demonstrating a little offensive firepower. Cody Kessler hit Marqise Lee on a 51-yard completion along the right sideline and Tre Madden followed that play with a 24-yard touchdown scamper to help USC regain the lead.
The Trojans' rushing attack frustrated Arizona State throughout the first half as Madden gained 90 yards on 10 carries and Justin Davis carried five times for 49 yards.
The Sun Devils' exploited the Trojans secondary on the first drive of the game with Chris Coyle and they decided to go back to the well on their first series of the second half. Taylor Kelly rallied Arizona State as he found a wide open D.J. Foster across the middle for a 74-yard touchdown pass. The 74-yard completion is the longest of Kelly's career.
On the very next drive, USC showed a glimpse of why the Trojans have been called out by the national media throughout the season. The offense has simply not been up to par and quarterback Cody Kessler spoon-fed Sun Devil safety Alden Darby on a telegraphed interception. Darby took the touchdown 46 yards to the house and Arizona State opened up its largest lead of the game with a 34-21 advantage. The pick marked the second year in a row Darby returned an interception for a touchdown against USC.
After a quick three-and-out from USC, the Sun Devils took over again and Taylor Kelly decided to turn on the jets. The Sun Devil quarterback went for 30 yards on a keeper and set his offense up inside the Trojans red zone yet again.
A roughing the passer penalty gave the Sun Devils a first-and-goal situation and Arizona State didn't hesitate in putting the ball in the hands of Marion Grice. Grice caught an eight-yard pass on a swing route and snuck into the end zone to give the Sun Devils their third touchdown of the quarter.
The Grice touchdown gave the Sun Devils 21 points in the third quarter after just five minutes and five seconds had elapsed. Prior to Saturday night, the Trojans had not surrendered more than 14 points in any of their first four games.
On the Sun Devils' next offensive possession, Taylor Kelly threw a costly interception to freshman safety Su'a Cravens. The Trojans took over and drove to their own 40-yard line before facing a fourth down and two situation. USC lined up with running back Tre Madden in Wildcat formation and Madden attempted a downfield pass that was intercepted by Alden Darby.
The Sun Devils turned on the route when Marion Grice bulldozed his way into the end zone from nine yards out. Grice's third touchdown of the night marked his 11th of the season.
Arizona State finished the quarter with 28 unanswered points to take a commanding 48-21 lead. Taylor Kelly needs 12 passing yards to set his career high as he has 351 yards heading into the fourth quarter.