Saturday marks the second game in a row against a Pac-12 rival from Los Angeles, and this time it's a road test against USC. We caught up with Evan Budrovich of SB Nation's USC page Conquest Chronicles to get the perspective of a Trojan writer.
House of Sparky: What has the difference in the offensive game plan been like with Steve Sarkisian as opposed to last year?
Conquest Chronicles: Steve Sarkisian has injected an offensive game plan that works to get the ball out quickly with a precise sense of timing and rhythm. While the Trojans are actually running the ball more than last season, the up-tempo pace has allowed for a more fluid offensive attack.
HOS: Rushing or passing, how do you expect USC to attack an inexperienced Sun Devil defense?
CC: USC will try to succeed early by throwing the ball on first and second down in the first half of the game. I would say the overall message would be to pound the rock from the start, mixing in the fresh legs of Justin Davis and Buck Allen, but Sarkisian also wants Kessler to matriculate the ball down field when the opportunity presents itself.
HOS: If you were to guess one Trojan to have a big game, who would it be and why?
CC: I would say that Nelson Agholor, who had just three catches last week against OSU, would be the one guy to spark an offensive turnaround. Kessler and Agholor already have great report up and down the intricate route tree and one would assume the the savvy passer would find his most talented option for some quick, easy throws.
HOS: Excluding the slip-up against Boston College, USC has averaged only 12 points allowed per game. What has been the key the defense's ability to keep points off the board?
CC: The Trojans have done a great job of slowing teams down in the redzone. Most notably against Stanford, USC's defense runs somewhat of a bend but don't break mold that really tightens up when great athletes like Leonard Williams, Anthony Sarao and Su'a Cravens can more freely roam the field. One other are they've done well in is pass coverage, limiting top-flight options from controlling the game.
HOS: What is your score prediction?
CC: This will certainly not be the ASU nightmare of 2013, and not like the Trojan triumph in 2012. I'd expect the game to be somewhere in between, as USC will win a tight 31-24 game. I could definitely see ASU jumping out early, but I think the Trojans' running game will wear down on an inexperience defense to provide the perfect balance to Cody Kessler's efficient passing attack.