Arizona State travels to Los Angeles this week to face USC for a pivotal game as far as the Pac-12 south race goes. That is by and large a new thing for this series. The Sun Devils have won two of the last three games between the two teams, including last year's 62-41 win that resulted in Trojan coach Lane Kiffin get fired in an LAX terminal parking lot. But from 2000-2010, USC went undefeated against the maroon and gold, winning all 11 of the meetings (although one of them would later be vacated).
One of the greatest games between these two teams came in 2010. With Arizona State coming in at 4-4, and USC at 5-3, the contest flew under the radar nationally. The Trojans jumped out to a 22-7 lead in front of a smaller than normal Coliseum crowd, but the visitors rallied behind numerous key players late in the third quarter to come all the way back.
Georgia Tech and Michigan transfer Steven Threet hooked up with Gerell Robinson for a touchdown pass halfway through the third quarter to cut the deficit to eight, but the Trojans responded with a touchdown of their own. No problem, said LeQuan Lewis, who returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards to make the score 29-21.
A pick-six early in the fourth pulled Arizona State within two, which is where the score would stay after a failed two-point conversion attempt. With seven minutes remaining, Threet threw his third touchdown pass of the game to put his team ahead 33-29, but USC would block the extra point and Torin Harris returned it all the way to make it a two-point game.
That gave the Trojans the option of playing for a field goal on their next drive, which is exactly what they did, putting them ahead 34-33. The Sun Devils did have a couple of last gasp efforts, but the first ended in a missed field goal from 42 yards and the second attempt concluded with an interception.
The game may have ended in heartbreak for Sun Devil nation, but it ended up proving to be a turning point in the series. USC was no longer the big brother that bullied the rest of the conference around, and Arizona State was a program on the rise.
The series picks back up in Los Angeles this Saturday, where the Sun Devils are 4-10 against the Trojans, including 0-1 since that crazy game back in 2010. That game, in 2012, was during coach Todd Graham's first season with the team. A young Taylor Kelly was under center for that game, and it appears as if they will have to go with another inexperienced quarterback this time around as Kelly continues to heal from a foot injury. Junior Mike Bercovici should get the start, which will be just the second of his career.
USC leads the all time series 18-11, and the Sun Devils have only won two games in a row once against the Trojans in 1982-83. The biggest win against USC for the maroon and gold came in a 35-7 victory in 1997.