Preview | No. 12 USC at Arizona State
No. 12 USC at Arizona State
Saturday, November 7 2009
Sun Devil Stadium
After a vigorous slate and less than satisfying results, the Trojans’ schedule will now serve one more for the road. USC has played five of eight games behind enemy lines, which included trips to Ohio State, Notre Dame, Cal, and Oregon. The road warriors now move to the desert to face Arizona State, where they will play the visiting role for a final time this season.
USC is still stinging and licking its wounds from last weekend’s defeat, and what they’ll face in Tempe is yet another formidable foe. The Sun Devils may not bolster much respect through offensive performance, ranking a woeful 77th nationally, but what the Trojans will find is the top defense in conference, 18th best in the country.
The strength of that defense counters the strength of the Trojan offense, which is limiting the ground attack. ASU has allowed an average of just 80 yards rushing to their season opponents. One important piece to that run stopping unit is a name and face very familiar to USC and its coaching staff. Vontaze Burflict verbally committed to Southern California in 2008, but signed his letter of intent with Arizona State. Performing as a true freshman, the linebacker has found a suitable structure to house his talent and a spotlight in Dennis Erickson’s program.
For USC, it was more than BCS dreams that were busted in Eugene. The Trojans will enter this game a battered bunch. Tight end Anthony McCoy will not play, still suffering the effects of an ankle sprain. A shoulder injury sustained against the Ducks will also keep linebacker Malcolm Smith sidelined on Saturday. A group of players listed as questionable during the week now appear more likely to see action this weekend. That group includes Damian Williams, Everson Griffen, Allen Bradford, Joe McKnight, Nick Perry and Armond Armstead.
Analysis: ASU is 4-4 on the season, but are without a signature victory. They had the near miss in Athens that resulted in a loss to Georgia, and the miracle finish against Wasthington that delivered a victory. Defense has enabled them to stay in some ballgames, but the question remains whether they will have enough offensive firepower to defeat USC.
The Trojans have questions of their own. The defense has continued to peddle in reverse as the weeks pass, but the Sun Devils aren’t nearly as threatening, especially on the ground, as Notre Dame, Oregon State or Oregon. USC’s offense has also failed to find a solution for its failures on third down, which could prove to be very important against an ASU team that wants to hang around for four quarters. The Trojans are 94th in the nation in third down efficiency (34.74), and has also found the conversion of red zone touchdowns to be problematic. A game of field position and field goals favors the host.
Coincidentally: In the two losses this season, USC ran into some familiar faces. Washington running back Chris Polk was originally a verbal commit to USC. Oregon wide receiver Jamere Holland transferred out of the USC program. This week it’s Vontaze Burflict. Same result? I hope not.
prediction: USC 20, Arizona State 13
All Time series: USC leads 16-9
Streak: USC has won 9 straight
Last meeting: 2008 | USC 28, Arizona State 0 (Los Angeles Coliseum)