No. 16 USC Football Hosts Arizona State

    Steve Sarkisian
    Sept. 28, 2014

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    Arizona State62
    September 28, 2013
    Tempe, Ariz.
    Trojans Outlasted by Arizona State, 62-41
    Marion Grice scored four touchdowns, two on passes from Taylor Kelly, and Arizona State used consecutive big plays in the third quarter to race past Southern California 62-41 on Saturday night. Arizona State (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) trailed by 1 after USC opened the third quarter with a quick scoring drive. The Sun Devils ran away from the Trojans after that, scoring a pair of touchdowns 47 seconds apart. Kelly orchestrated the first, hitting D.J. Foster in stride for a 74-yard touchdown pass. Alden Darby was next, stepping in front of a pass by Cody Kessler for a 46-yard interception return that put the Sun Devils up 34-21.

    No. 16-ranked USC, coming off a needed bounce back home victory over Oregon State, begins October play by hosting reigning Pac-12 South Division champion Arizona State live on FOX. The Sun Devils have not beaten the Trojans in Los Angeles since 1999, dropping their past 7 Coliseum visits. However, the last time the teams met, not only did the Sun Devils put up 62 points to win in 2013, but then-USC head coach Lane Kiffin was fired after the game. USC is 2-0 in conference play for the first time since 2007 and Trojan seasons historically have gone well after 2-0 starts. It's the only time that USC plays two consecutive home games in 2014. New head coach Steve Sarkisian's Trojans sport an up-tempo offense and an aggressive defense. QB Cody Kessler, who has not thrown an interception this year while hitting 72.0% of his aerials, is in the national Top 25 in completion percentage, completions, passing efficiency and passing TDs. TB Javorius Allen, who ranks high nationally in rushing and all-purpose running, has had 100 yards either rushing or receiving in every game this season. WR Nelson Agholor's name shows up in the Trojan career Top 25 in receptions and punt returns. The Trojan defense is headlined by All-American and current team tackle leader DE Leonard Williams, ILB Hayes Pullard (Troy's top tackler in 2 previous seasons) and always-around-the-ball 2013 Freshman All-American S Su'a Cravens, who has 5 career picks (including a TD return last week). USC is the only school in the country yet to have surrendered a passing TDs, which figures as the Trojans' defense is Top 25 statistically in third down conversion defense, pass efficiency defense, turnover margin, pass defense, interceptions, red zone defense, scoring defense and first down defense. Seven true freshmen have played significant roles already for Troy (6 have started), including 3-way player Adoree' Jackson. USC has yet to suit up more than 57 recruited scholarship players in 2014 because of NCAA-mandated scholarship limitations. Arizona State had a few extra days to prepare for Troy after getting upended by UCLA at home last Thursday, despite rolling up 626 total yards and 38 first downs on 105 plays. It was the first loss of 2014 for head coach Todd Graham's team. The Sun Devils' are ninth nationally in total offense (560.8) and 16th in both in scoring offense (42.0) and rushing offense (262.8). Dual-threat QB Taylor Kelly--14th in the nation in passing efficiency--was sidelined against UCLA (his status this week is undetermined), so QB Mike Bercovici filled in and threw for 488 yards and 3 scores. TB D.J. Foster, who has eclipsed 100 rushing yards 5 times in his last 7 games, is in the nation's Top 10 in all-purpose running and rushing. WR Jaelen Strong, who has 9 career 100-yard receiving games, ranks high in the U.S. in receptions and receiving yards. The Sun Devil defense is led by Ss Damarious Randall, the national leader in solo tackles, and Jordan Simone. PK Zane Gonzalez, who was an All-Pac-12 first teamer as a freshman last year, already has 30 career field goals. The USC men's water polo and women's soccer teams host contests this weekend.