Well last week was a disaster, right? A poor defensive showing and bad turnovers turned what once was a close game into an utter blowout. But that was UCLA, and this is USC.
The Trojans are a good team with some great players, but lack depth and looked surprisingly inept against Boston College in a shocking loss. So what do the Sun Devils need to do to pull out a win? Here are five keys to an Arizona State victory:
1. Protect the rock: USC has scored 49 points off turnovers this year. That's nearly two touchdowns per game. Arizona State cannot give the Trojans opportunities to score extra points. USC can move the ball just fine by themselves, and the Sun Devils' defense looked terrible last week. Why help them out?
2. Force turnovers and score off of them: The Trojans are equally good at not turning the ball over. USC has not allowed a point off a turnover this season, and a lot of that has to do with to hang onto the football. Cody Kessler has not thrown an interception all season, and the Trojans have lost just two fumbles. It's hard to score off turnovers when you aren't forcing them. Arizona State has 70 points off turnovers, and that trend will need to continue in this one.
3. Stop Javorius "Buck" Allen: Allen is big, explosive back with feet that don't stop. He turns up field as soon as he touches the ball, and easily breaks arm tackles. Allen is a yards after contact king, and the way Arizona State tackled last week, his numbers could get better. Focusing on wrapping Allen up has to be a priority for the Sun Devils defense.
4. Don't waste timeouts: Todd Graham was back to being Todd Graham again against UCLA, and it cost his team dearly. The Sun Devils were in the game, and about to take a comfortable lead into halftime, when Mike Bercovici had to hurry his team to the line and rushed a throw that was intercepted and returned for a touchdown. That play changed the game, and would not have happened had the Sun Devils not used every timeout already.
5. Keep D.J. Foster involved: The Sun Devils need to run, run, run in this one, and Foster has to be the horse. Mike Norvell should be looking for exotic ways to get Foster the ball, and Arizona State should look to go into power formations a few times just to wear down a thin USC defense. Su'a Cravens and Leonard Williams form the best defensive duo in the Pac-12, but behind them and Hayes Pullard, this defense is thin and vulnerable. Wear them out, and you've got a chance.