The first drives by both teams saw quarterbacks trying to outdo each other, but not in the usual way. After a stalled Arizona State drive, Mike Bercovici dropped back and kicked a pooch punt, which was downed at the 1-yard line. USC drove to the Arizona State 47-yard line, then Kessler tried to pooch. It did not go as well as Bercovici's and landed in the end zone.
When the actual punter came out is when things went south for the Sun Devils. Matt Haack kicked it away, but USC's Nelson Agholor was underneath it. Agholor got a hole and ran with it, all the way to the house for a 53-yard touchdown.
The best thing one could say about Arizona State's next drive is that it was not returned for a touchdown. Quick three-and-out, and USC had the ball back right away. Same story on the next drive. The Sun Devils punted on all four of its drives in the first quarter.
After the first 15 minutes, USC led 7-0, with Agholor's return the only score in the frame.
The second quarter started off better for Arizona State. It received a punt to start the drive from on its own 27, completed two pretty passes to tight end Kody Kohl, then went to Ellis Jefferson for 28 more.
Bercovici got his team to the USC 4-yard line, then found his trusty receiver Jaelen Strong for a 4-yard touchdown to tie the game with 11:41 left in the half. It was the first passing touchdown USC had allowed all season.
The Sun Devils would not stop there. After a big defensive stop, they got the ball back and didn't wait around to methodically move down the field. Strong got lose, and Bercovici hit him in stride for a perfect 77-yard touchdown pass.
Capitalizing on the momentum, Arizona State lined up with most of its offensive line outside the left hash for the two-point conversion. Bercovici took the snap and hit Kohl on a quick snap to convert. Arizona State led 15-7.
After stopping USC once again, Kyle Middlebrooks was called for running into the punter to extend the drive. USC capitalizing, with Buck Allen running in a 4th-and-goal for a touchdown. The Trojans settled for one, and trailed 15-14 with 2:49 left in the half.
After a 35-yard field goal, USC went into halftime with a 17-15 lead.
Be sure to stay tuned to House of Sparky postgame for a full recap.