In the crosshairs: Arizona State

Overall record: 4-4
Conference record: 2-3
National Rank: none
Last Week: defeated WSU 42-0

The situation in Tempe is mostly ignored, but Dennis Erickson is easily on the list of hot seat coaches. After replacing Dirk Koetter in 2007, Erickson’s Sun Devils posted a record of 10-3 (give the schedule an assist), and earned a trip to the Holiday Bowl.

In the two seasons following, the Devils failed to become bowl eligible and recorded no more than 4 victories. The current team is also stuck on the number four, and needs two wins in the final four games to qualify for the postseason. A victory over USC can move them one game closer, while also ending a miserable streak.

Arizona State is the only Pac 10 program never to beat Pete Carroll. It failed to take advantage of the construction period in 2001, and failed again in 2009, with USC in obvious decline. The Trojans have now come full cycle, rebuilding again under Lane Kiffin, providing another opportunity for the Devils to strike and bring an end to an active losing streak that has now reached ten games.

“USC can’t play in a bowl game this season, so a few Trojans called last week’s game with No. 1 Oregon their bowl game. Well, they lost their bowl game by three TDs; does that mean the season is over? Does the cumulative effect of two last-second losses and that blowout defeat — not to mention what figures to be a small crowd in the Coliseum — leave the Trojans unfocused and unmotivated with Arizona State in town fighting for its bowl life?”Ted Miller, ESPN

Arizona State by the numbers

Category

Nat. Rank

Conf. Rank

Average

Total offense

28

5

432.25

Rush offense

81

8

139.00

Pass offense

16

2

293.25

Pass efficiency

60

8

130.89

Scoring offense

34

5

32.00

Total Defense

38

5

340.50

Rush Defense

15

2

109.38

Pass Defense

81

7

231.13

Pass Efficiency Defense

66

5

126.06

Scoring Defense

34

5

23.25

The Skinny: Arizona has transformed a bit from the team a year ago that was highlighted by defensive play. This year’s group surrenders more yards, but packs more offensive punch.

The Sun Devils and Trojans played to a near standstill last November, before USC prevailed 14-9. That was mostly due to injuries that plagued the skill positions for USC, and the performance of ASU defensive end Dexter Davis, who harassed Matt Barkley for four quarters. Davis is now gone, as well as Trojans WR Damian Williams and CB Will Harris, who provided the only two touchdowns in last year’s victory. While USC has restocked the skill shelf, Arizona State has no legitimate replacement at defensive end, making for a lesser unit on Saturday.

The in-game battle will be fought between the Trojans secondary and the Sun Devils passing game. Passing is what ASU does best, while defending it has been the thorn in the side of USC. Capitalizing and winning this matchup could be the key to the Sun Devils winning or losing this game. A victory over USC may be enough to grant Erickson another season in Tempe. But another defeat might seal his fate, with tough games against ranked Stanford and Arizona teams still remaining.

All Time Series: USC leads 17-9
Streak: USC has won 10
Last Meeting: 2009- USC 14, ASU 9
Line: USC -5.5

Fun Facts

  • Arizona State’s last victory over USC was on November 6, 1999 in the Los Angeles Coliseum.
  • USC has outscored ASU 44-9 in the last two meetings.
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~ by Anthony on November 4, 2010.

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