The Arizona State Sun Devils (6-3, 4-2 Pac-12) made up for their dastardly homecoming performance with a 31-16 victory over the visiting USC Trojans (4-5, 3-4) on parents’ weekend.
Senior running back Rachaad White stole the show for ASU in his return from injury, running for a career high 202 rushing yards and accounting for three of the Sun Devils’ four touchdowns on the night, including a 50-yarder early in the fourth quarter that put the game out of reach. He also added two catches and 35 receiving yards to go along with his impressive rushing totals.
“It’s just a blessing,” White said. “I’m very thankful for this moment. The guys respected my decision not to play last week and welcomed me back and rallied me. I give the credit to the guys up front and the receivers.”
White’s behemoth of a game helped disguise what was otherwise a sloppy showing by the Sun Devil offense. ASU may have won the game in the end, but it could not seem to avoid the same mistakes that cost it its two previous contests. The Sun Devils lost the turnover battle for the second week in a row, giving the ball away three times to USC’s two, and did not convert a third down until late in the third quarter.
For 15 minutes, it looked as though the Sun Devils might be on their way to playing their cleanest game of the season, as they managed to get through the first quarter without turning the ball over or committing a penalty. Unfortunately, the optimism did not last, as Evan Fields was called for pass interference on the third play of the second quarter, setting off a chain reaction of ASU mistakes that would continue throughout the rest of the game.
At that point, it looked like sophomore DeaMonte Trayanum, rather than White, would be the one to steal the show. Trayanum scored the opening touchdown, but fumbled on his very next carry and spent the rest of the game on the sideline. Edwards insisted that Trayanum had not been benched, but his absence from the game ensured a healthy workload for White the rest of the way, which he took full advantage of.
“(Trayanum) wasn’t benched, it was just that (White) had the hot hand,” Edwards said. “DeaMonte is a big part of our backfield. We’ve got three backs, but (White) was running. He ran well and the offensive line blocked well for him.”
Trayanum’s exit from the game may have opened the door for White to run all over USC’s defense, but it did not stop the scourge of turnovers that has plagued ASU in its last two games. Quarterback Jayden Daniels threw two more interceptions, both of which were high and behind his intended receiver, bringing his season total up to seven and bringing the team’s turnover total up to 17.
Although ASU was able to snap its two-game skid, the Sun Devils’ performance against USC only reinforced concerns about their ability to play clean, mistake-free football for 60 minutes at a time. Now, they must head out on the road to face an opportunistic Washington defense in unfavorable conditions, and turning in another lackluster performance will not be an option if the Sun Devils hope to remain in contention for the Pac-12 South Title.
“That’s got to be part of our DNA,” Edwards said. “You’re not going to survive (turnovers) no matter where you play. No matter how good you think you are, you’re not going to survive that.”