The Arizona State Sun Devils are reeling after a 62-27 loss suffered at the hands of the UCLA Bruins in Sun Devil Stadium last Thursday when they were forced to play without starting quarterback Taylor Kelly as a result of injury. Now they take on the USC Trojans who are looking to improve to 2-0 in the Pac-12 and drop Todd Graham’s team to 1-2 in the conference after winning the South last year.
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Date: Saturday, Oct. 3
Start time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Stadium: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
TV info: Fox
Live Stream: Fox Sports Go
Radio: USC broadcast here. Arizona State broadcast here.
Keys to Victory
Arizona State will once again be without Taylor Kelly who was ruled out for this game on Monday as he continues to recover from his foot injury which means Mike Bercovici makes his second straight start. He passed for 488 yards against UCLA with three touchdowns, but his three turnovers were costly, including a 95-yard interception return with one second remaining before halftime that sunk the team.
If Arizona State is going to win on the road with their backup quarterback they can’t turn the ball over because USC quarterback Cody Kessler has yet to throw a single interception this season.
USC has yet to throw a pick and they have yet to allow a touchdown pass, that includes in wins against Kevin Hogan and Stanford and Sean Mannion and Oregon State, so Bercovici needs to feed the ball to running back D.J. Foster who was ineffective against the Bruins when the Sun Devils fell down by so much and had to play catch up. He also lost a fumble in his worst game of the year, but he still ranks third in the nation in yards from scrimmage.
USC needs to run Javorius “Buck” Allen and set up manageable second and third downs for Kessler so the offense can pick their spots when to go deep with Nelson Agholor and incorporating Juju Smith more in the passing game should be emphasized. He has just 10 receptions for 60 yards over the last three games after a four-catch, 123-yard debut in Week 1.
Point spread: USC -11.5
It’s a shame Kelly will not be healthy enough to play in this Pac-12 south showdown after he threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns in the 62-41 win over USC last year when they matched the record for the most points ever scored against the Trojans. He led ASU to a 3-0 start and without him last week we saw how big of a drop there was, so I am picking Southern California to improve to 3-0 in the Pac-12 for the first time since 2006 and improve to 3-0 at home this season and 4-1 overall.
Final Score: Trojans: 38, Sun Devils: 26