Arizona State and USC will clash in the season opener as PAC-12 football returns this week.
Last season, USC burst out of the gate with several first quarter touchdowns and held on to beat ASU and backup quarterback Joey Yellen 31-26.
Yellen, who was making his first collegiate start that day in Tempe, led an inspiring second half comeback and finished his day with four touchdown passes.
The Sun Devils will return to Southern California this year, the site where they captured a 38-35 victory in 2018. USC opens this game as a double-digit favorite, but this game should be much closer than the favorable spread for the Trojans indicates.
Still, USC enters this game loaded with talent. Here are the Trojan players ASU will have to account for if they want to leave the Los Angeles area with a win.
Quarterback Kedon Slovis (So.)
Slovis took over for injured quarterback J.T. Daniels last season and put together a remarkable freshman campaign, passing for 3,502 yards and 30 touchdowns.
Slovis fits the character of what college football has come to expect from USC quarterbacks; tall, moderately mobile, absolute cannon for an arm.
His deep throws are a sight to behold, and ASU needs to do a much better job stopping them this week than they did last year, when Slovis torched the Sun Devil defense for 432 yards and four touchdowns, several of those scores coming on deep throws.
Slovis is looking to go 2-0 against the school that he grew up just 20 minutes away from in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Wide Receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (Jr.)
St. Brown is the clear No. 1 receiver on this USC roster after the departure of second-round NFL draft pick Michael Pittman Jr.
The dangerous wideout had a tremendous season in 2019, finishing with 77 receptions for 1,042 yards and six touchdowns.
His best game of the season came against the Sun Devils, when he caught eight passes for 173 yards and one score. His skill set lines up very much with former USC wide receiver Marquise Lee. ASU will have their hands full trying to stop St. Brown on Saturday.
Linebacker Drake Jackson (So.)
Jackson had a mighty impressive freshman season, accumulating 26 solo tackles, 5.5 sacks and one forced fumble.
He is arguably USC’s best defensive player, and will be a nightmare for a retooled ASU offensive line to manage, as well as tough tackle to break for the Devils’ new running backs.
Sleeper: Wide Receiver Drake London (So.)
If St. Brown is stepping in for Pittman Jr., then London will be slotting in as the new No. 2 in 2020. Many within the USC program are extremely confident in the young receiver’s abilities.
He came on strong last season, scoring a touchdown in each of his final five games. Last year against ASU, London hauled in three catches for 30 yards and one touchdown.
Whether the Devils’ back end of Chase Lucas, Jack Jones, Evan Fields and Aashari Croswell perform better against London, St. Brown and the rest of the USC receivers this time around will likely be the matchup that decides this game.