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ASU vs. USC Preview: By the Numbers

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A stat geek's guide to the ASU-USC matchup on Saturday.

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The Arizona State Sun Devils and the USC Trojans won't call each other their main rivals by any measure. Heck, Trojans fans won't even call the Sun Devils their second-biggest rival (that title goes to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish). Still, these two Pac-12 programs have forged a rivalry since they first met in 1978, and it has recently grown stronger since the conference introduced division titles in 2011.

We preview Saturday's tilt between USC and Arizona State and examine some of their series history, by the numbers.


This will be the 32nd meeting between the Sun Devils and the Trojans. USC has the edge on the series and is 19-12* against ASU. An Arizona State victory on Saturday would tie the all-time series at Sun Devil Stadium at 8-8.


The Sun Devils have won back-to-back games against the Trojans just four times in 36 years. ASU has never defeated USC three consecutive times, but will have the chance to do so Saturday after winning the 2013 and 2014 meetings.

ASU could be just the third team to beat the Trojans three times in a row since 2000.


The Trojans' longest winning streak over the Sun Devils is 11* games, which USC achieved from 2000-10. Dirk Koetter never defeated USC as ASU's head coach from 2001-06. It took Dennis Erickson all the way up to his fifth and final season to finally beat USC in 2011.


As the Trojans are currently No. 19, this will be the 25th time USC is going into a matchup against ASU ranked in the AP Top 25. The Trojans have faced the Sun Devils ranked as the No. 1 team in the nation just once in 2004.


According to the ASU sports information department, the Sun Devils are averaging 38.6 points per game against the Trojans in the last five years, the highest against any opponent ASU has faced in that five-year span.


USC allowed 474 total yards to a struggling Stanford Cardinal offense in last week's 41-31 loss. The Cardinal had just 240 yards against the Northwestern Wildcats in its season opener but did hang 491 against the UCF Knights a week later. Stanford has scored only 37 total points coming in to the USC game.


The Sun Devils rank 106th out of 127 FBS teams in rushing yards allowed per game at 215.3, but that number is awfully inflated due to Arizona State facing two triple-option offenses in the Cal Poly Mustangs and the New Mexico Lobos in back-to-back weeks. The rushing yards allowed per attempt department is a little better for the Sun Devils, as they are 65th in the country allowing 4.0 yards per carry.


Arizona State is ninth in the country in passing yards allowed per game. But again, the Sun Devils have only defended against 78 passes, and look at the kind of systems they faced the last two weeks.


USC quarterback Cody Kessler is slinging the ball at a whopping 78.7 percent completion rate. It's the second-most accurate clip in the country among qualifying quarterbacks, trailing behind Louisiana-Monroe quarterback Garrett Smith's 79.0 percent completion rate.


Kessler has yet to throw an interception in 89 passes. Only one quarterback in the country — Arizona Wildcats' Anu Solomon — has thrown more attempts without a pick at 104.


According to the ASU sports information department, Sun Devils wide receiver D.J. Foster has recorded a reception in all 43 career games, which is the longest streak in the FBS. He trails John Jefferson's all-time record by just one reception. Foster also has the second-most all-purpose yards among active FBS players with 4,184 yards.


USC committed 29 total penalties against ASU from 2011-14. The Trojans racked up 10 in 2011, four in 2012, six in 2013 and nine in 2014. Meanwhile, the Sun Devils' grand total comes out to 20, with their highest in one game coming at six in their loss to USC in 2012.


Todd Graham is 2-1 against USC since taking the Arizona State job prior to the start of the 2012 season. It's a small sample size, but .667 is the third best winning-percentage of eight ASU coaches that have faced the Trojans.

Frank Kush won his only game against USC (which was ranked No. 2 at the time) in 1978 in a 35-21 victory at Sun Devil Stadium. John Cooper won both of his matchups against USC in 1985 and 1986.

An ASU win on Saturday would also give Graham his 80th career victory.


USC coach Steve Sarkisian is 0-4 all-time against Arizona State, the first three losses coming from his days as head coach of the Washington Huskies.

But hey, Arizona State still sucks, right Sark?

*stats and records include USC's wins in 2005 that the NCAA officially vacated due to sanctions