Week 4 wrap-up: Arizona State 43, USC 22
Arizona State, playing nearly flawless football, defeated USC 43-22 on Saturday. The victory snapped an 11-game winless streak against the Trojans, and catapulted the Sun Devils to the top of the Pac 12 South. Dennis Erickson’s much maligned team played outside of press clippings and within itself, allowing it to finally leap an obstacle that had stood since 1999. It did so by limiting penalties to six for 68 yards, and finishing the night without a turnover. On this weekend, ASU refused to beat itself, leaving that up to a longtime nemesis, who fell short of the challenge.
USC did its best to become what Arizona State was written to be, and that ultimately became the difference in winning and losing. The Trojans committed a season high in turnovers (4) and penalties (10-87-yards). The offense struggled to cap first half drives with touchdowns, four times penetrating inside the ASU 30-yard line, only to come away with three Andre Heidari field goals and a pass intercepted by Vontaze Burfict to end the threat.
The Trojans finally found the end zone on consecutive possessions in the second half, to pull ahead by a score of 22-21. But the three drives that followed would end with two fumbles and an interception, with the latter returned 42-yards by Shelly Lyons for an ASU touchdown.
USC outgained its opponent by a margin of 402 to 392 yards, but the Sun Devils scored touchdowns on four of five trips to the red zone, with the only exception being the final drive with less than a minute remaining, when Erickson chose to wind the clock on fourth down instead of another try for points.
Turnovers and penalties are a recipe for disaster. And served with a defense’s inability to limit red zone scoring, and an offense making good on just a single third-down conversion, it results in a bitter meal that is swallowed as a loss. This was dubbed as USC’s first real test of the season, out on the road for the first time, and facing a legitimate conference contender. After a week of preparation, the Trojans failed the exam. And in this school of hard knocks, there is no make-up or do-over.
Cameron Marshall rushed 25 times for 141 yards and 3 touchdowns. It was his first hundred yard performance of the season, and it was accomplished on a sore ankle that made his availability for the game questionable during the week. He also became the first running back to crack the century mark against the Trojans this season, with it last occurring in December of last year, when UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin ran for 109.
Marc Tyler recorded his second 100-yard rushing performance in three games, carrying 22 times for 149 yards and a score. He rushed for an average of 6.8 yards per carry against the Sun Devils defense, but it’s a costly second half fumble that most will remember. Arizona State had held opposing running backs to less than a hundred yards in six straight games. The last player to gain 100-plus was the same Marc Tyler, who ran for 119 yards last November in Southern California’s one-point victory in Los Angeles.
- Robert Woods led all receivers with 8 receptions for 131 yards. Despite the consistency in numbers, it was the second time this season that the sophomore was held scoreless.
- Freshman Amir Carlisle saw his first action of the season, carrying the ball twice for a total of 14 yards. With Carlisle in, D.J. Morgan, who fumbled in each of the previous two games, was the back left out on Saturday.
- In his three meetings with Arizona State, Matt Barkley has completed just 58.6 percent of his passes and has thrown as many touchdowns as interceptions (5), for an overall passer rating of 71.55.