Preview Week 11…ASU: Pac-12 South Showdown vs #19 USC

Pac-12 South Showdown: ASU faces off against USC in a battle of two destination West coast schools in a game that will bring hope to one of them.

The Arizona State Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) are traveling to Los Angeles to take on the #19 USC Trojans (6-3, 4-3 Pac-12) on Saturday.  Kickoff is at 12 noon, and the game will be shown on the Pac-12 network.

As far as the scenery goes, ASU and USC are well-matched.  Both in student population and campus appearance, the schools boast a status of being a premiere destination for undergraduate education on the West coast.  It’s fair to say that their academic quality and prestige doesn’t share that similarity (I love ASU but broad access is a high institutional priority), and historically neither has the quality of their football teams (USC is nearly always considered a national contender).

That said, USC has dropped two straight (last week’s loss came at the hands of #4 Oregon) and are suffering the embarrassment of the football deflation scandal because of a scheming student equipment manager.  In a turn of events that could only happen on a college football field, it’s possible that they might be in just the wrong state of mind for ASU to capitalize and get a win that they so desperately need (especially for bowl eligibility).  It’s the same old song for ASU: coming off a loss, missing a few players, and relying strongly on Will Sutton to bolster the defense.

This won’t be the first time Sutton has gone against USC quarterback Matt Barkley: the two, both from California, played against each other in high school.  Let’s hope Sutton feels he has something to prove, and can rally the rest of the defense to his cause (they’ve gone from holding opponents to an average of 14.2 points per game to allowing 124 points over the last three).  Taylor Kelly also needs to show some mental resiliency after his performance in last week’s game against Oregon State.  Working in his favor is the fact that the Trojans defense has allowed 1318 yards in their past two games, and he’s shown that he can be effective…sometimes.

Winning in the Coliseum would be a hallmark win for Todd Graham’s new Devil team, something that they haven’t had up until this point in the season.  It would also revitalize their fading hopes for staying afloat in the Pac-12 South.  As the fans watch, from either the stadium (lots of ASU fans will be traveling because the weekend coincides with a huge recruiting event in LA) or on TV in Tempe, they’ll be watching for hope that ASU has shown improvement.  A win would be awesome, but not watching our team repeat mistakes and lose in painful fashion would be appreciated too (a non-painful loss, on the other hand, isn’t even looking so bad).  There’s one more home game on the schedule, and it’d be nice to have positive things to say during the last day of tailgating.  If not, as always, it’ll be a fierce round of “Go Devils!”

Oct. 18, 2012; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils defensive tackle (90) Will Sutton returns to the sidelines in the second half on crutches after suffering an injury in the first quarter against the Oregon Ducks at Sun Devil Stadium. Oregon defeated Arizona State 43-21. Courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-US PRESSWIRE