After a major test versus UCLA, Arizona State will either attempt to rebound or continue the momentum against USC, as they will hop over to California to pay the Trojans a visit the week after hosting USC's cross-town rival. Arizona State humiliated USC last season in a 62-41 win, costing head coach Lane Kiffin his job. That job is now Steve Sarkisian's and while he has yet to take the field as the head coach of the Trojans, he's already created buzz with a strong recruiting class that came together at the last moment. Here are some players to watch for wearing the crimson and gold.
Offense: Nelson Agholor (6-foot-1, 190 pounds)
Agholor spent most of the past two years in the shadow of Marqise Lee, but still excelled in that role. He caught 19 balls for 340 yards as a true freshman in 2012 and upped his production in 2013 to 56 receptions and 918 yards. He also picked up kickoff return duties in 2013, and took two kickoffs all the way to the house.
In 2014, Agholor's expectations have been raised to lofty heights. With Lee gone, the offensive load is being handed over to the junior from Tampa, Florida. Much like Lee, Agholor possess a rare ability to impact a game regardless of its pace. He's capable of being a go-to possession receiver that rarely drops the ball and runs crisp routes, but he also possesses game-changing ability. Agholor's top games in 2013 came against Arizona and Stanford, where he combined for 15 receptions and 265 yards. Both he and Lee struggled at times due to poor quarterback play, but if Sarkisian can fix that up, Agholor is a threat to rack up 100 yards every time he steps out on the field.
Defense: Su'a Cravens (6-foot-1, 225 pounds)
Cravens is a big, physical safety that can absolutely fly around the field. He came into the USC program in the spring of 2013 after graduating high school a semester early, and his experience in spring camp aided him come the fall season, as he excelled from the get-go. He totaled 53 tackles in 2013 to go with four interceptions and two forced fumbles. Cravens picked off Taylor Kelly in Sun Devil Stadium last year, and he'll have improved ten fold by the time they face off again this year. Cravens is a game-changer.
Offense: Cody Kessler (6-foot-1, 210 pounds)
Kessler had a very rocky 2013 campaign, and he wasn't helped by having to play under three different head coaches. At times he looked lost on the field, but he steadily improved throughout the year and finished the season off strong by throwing for 344 yards and four touchdowns in a Las Vegas Bowl demolition of Fresno State. Kessler's highs in 2013 were very high, and performances against teams like Cal where he went 14-for-17 and against Boston College, completing 15 of his 17 passes show the production he can put up when he's accurate. Kessler can dominate a game, but he gets erratic when defenses present him with something unfamiliar and that was never more apparent then against Arizona State, when he threw two picks in a loss. Having a former collegiate quarterback in Sarkisian should help him improve and a better defense will keep him from forcing the ball.
Offense: Javorius Allen (6-foot-1, 220 pounds)
USC has a great history of running backs (OJ Simpson, Marcus Allen, Reggie Bush, etc.) but in recent years they have struggled to find a workhorse back they can rely on. Silas Redd was looked to to be that guy after transferring from Penn State in 2012 but he never materialized in the time he spent at USC. In limited chances, Allen looks to be the guy that will bring consistent production from the running back position. He didn't see the ball much in the first half of the season but scored 12 touchdowns in six games as he totaled 14 on the year. Performances like 145 yards on 21 rushes against Colorado show the workhorse trait and a showing against Cal where he racked up 135 yards and two touchdowns on only six touches shows that Allen has breakaway ability. He's an up-and-coming running back and as soon as USC decides to feed him the majority of the rushing snaps, he will gain national recognition.