ROUNDTABLE: No. 21 USC at Arizona State
TEMPE, AZ The Blaze Sports Directors, Broadcasters and Writers give their assessments and predictions for Saturday’s game between No. 21 USC and Arizona State.
Michael Baron // Blaze Sports Beat Writer
ASU is for real, folks and they have another opportunity to silence the remaining doubters tonight. First place in the division is up for grabs and the Devils could be first in the Pac-12 South after tonight’s game (Raise your hand if you thought that at the beginning of the season?). After a 30-10 win at Utah last week, the first Pac-12 road win since 2015, this team looks to be firing on pretty much all cylinders. Tonight, the Sun Devils face Sam Darnold and No. 21 USC, who were absolutely decimated last week at Notre Dame. The Trojans are in real danger of losing their second straight game. Expect ASU to utilize the run game, led by the seniors Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage.
The Trojans gave up 377 yards on the ground to the Fighting Irish last week in South Bend, and along with injuries on defense, Richard or Ballage could reach the century mark today (I think “and” is a stretch). Also, Manny Wilkins should continue what he’s been doing most of this season, and I expect him to go to sophomore wide receiver N’Keal Harry a lot during this game.
Defensively, ASU has looked stellar these last two games. Holding both Washington scoreless for 54:28 and Utah for beyond 30 minutes, no easy task. I think they will feed off the home crowd energy and give Darnold and co. all they can handle. I believe the key is can they limit the effectiveness of the USC run game, led by Ronald Jones II. Last Saturday, Jones II was limited to just 12 carries for 32 yards, his lowest since last season vs. ASU. Can the defense make USC one-dimensional and force Darnold to try and beat them through the air? No doubt, Darnold will pass for a lot of yards, even when under mounting pressure from the ASU D-Line, keeping Southern Cal within striking distance.
However, I expect the Sun Devils to come out and try to set the tone early, letting USC know Tempe is hostile territory. Plus, the fact that it’s homecoming should help as the Maroon & Gold faithful turn out en masse. I think this game could be close for a good bit of time, but I believe ASU will pull away in the end. Happy Halloween.
PREDICTION: USC 24, Arizona State 42
Harley Yearout // Blaze Sports Beat Writer
What a last few weeks it has been for these Arizona State Sun Devils. ASU came out against Utah last weekend and proved that the upset over then No. 5 Washington was no fluke. This Arizona State team looks for real now. ASU has held their opponents to just 17 points in the last two games combined. For comparison, the Arizona State defense allowed at least 30 points in every game before that this season.
USC comes into Tempe coming off a 49-14 loss to Notre Dame. The Trojans have been carefree with the ball, giving it away 19 times this year. Look for ASU to come out and put pressure on Trojan quarterback Sam Darnold. Darnold has 10 interceptions on the season, and he may throw more to an ASU defense that picked up 4 interceptions this week. ASU looks for real and with a win over USC, they establish themselves as a legitimate threat this week to the PAC-12 South title.
PREDICTION: USC 27, Arizona State 31
Chris Cadeau // Assistant Sports Director
This is it Todd Graham, the culminating moment of your 12-year coaching career. Sounds dramatic, well it is! Elite programs like Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson all had moments like tonight…defining moments. Win tonight and the Sun Devils will have knocked off three top-25 teams in one season. Lose and hear everyone say, “that UW win was cool and all but…” Come away victorious and the Devils would be a shoe in to be the first three-loss team to be ranked.
The No. 21 Trojans will be hungry after being embarrassed in South Bend last week, and have the potential to be almost unbeatable if they play their best football. Good thing for ASU that probably wont be the case because of injuries. ASU has the advantage in this one folks. Also, don’t be surprised special teams play decides this game.
PREDICTION: USC 24, Arizona State 31 (OT)
Braiden Bell // Assistant Sports Director & Broadcaster
Can you believe this, Sun Devil fans? With a win, ASU controls its fate in the PAC-12 South against No. 21 USC. It doesn’t seem real. The Devils come into this matchup with as much momentum as you could possibly have while meanwhile, USC is banged up and feeling down about themselves after a blowout loss to Notre Dame last week.
Injuries to key players like Stephen Carr and Christian Rector also really hurt USC’s chances against this surging Sun Devil team. Tempe hasn’t seen a game this big in years and I have a feeling they also wont forget this one for awhile.
PREDICTION: USC 31, Arizona State 34
Eliav Gabay // Assistant Sports Director
The No. 21 Trojans are marching into Tempe hobbled and coming off a blow-out loss. Arizona State has looked like a brand new team since the bye week and will look to carry on the momentum. This night can go one of two directions. First, USC can come in angry and ready to perform the way they did last time they played at Sun Devil Stadium, beating ASU by 28 points.
Second, Arizona State shows the same hunger, intensity, and defensive prowess they’ve shown the past two weeks and defeat the Trojans to take control of the Pac-12 South. If Sam Darnold can be that Heisman candidate everyone thought he’d be, the Trojans will be victorious. If ASU can continue to control time of possession and have another fast start, they will win this game.
The Sun Devils have flourished when they’re the underdog this season and I believe we’ll see that again. I said it during the Blaze Radio ASU vs Utah post-game show and I’ll say it again: the Sun Devils will beat USC and be ranked after this week.
PREDICTION: USC 23, Arizona State 37
Weston DeWitt // Sports Director & Broadcaster
Did we really think this is where we’d end up two weeks ago? Saying that Arizona State might have a legitimate chance against USC. Not to mention that this is for first place in the PAC-12 SOUTH!
On paper, USC is in favor of this game. However, with Christian Rector out for the Trojans and their entire team being decimated by injuries, that plays against their favor. And for ASU, they have all the momentum in the world. It’s going to be sold out and the crowd will be going bananas. Not to mention they have two straight wins over two strong teams.
However, I think Sam Darnold and Ronald Jones are going to make one more play than Manny Wilkins, Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage in this game. I don’t anticipate this game being a blowout. Going to be a very close game with USC edging out ASU.
PREDICTION: USC 28, Arizona State 27