A Pac-12 Conference tilt comes to you from the City of Angels. The Arizona State Sun Devils travel to the Golden State as they face the struggling USC Trojans Saturday night. Kickoff is at 8:30 pm from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The contest is nationally televised courtesy of FOX. The latest line shows USC as a 10 point favorite in this contest with the over/under set at 65 points.
Arizona State remained unbeaten as they outgunned Cal 51-41 at home last week in their conference opener. USC fell to 1-3 overall and 0-2 in the Pac-12 with a last minute, 31-27 loss to then-#24 Utah on the road last week. This is the 32nd all-time meeting between the schools. USC holds a 19-12 advantage in the series. That includes a 42-14 win on the road last season in the most recent meeting. Arizona State’s last win was a 38-34 triumph on the road in 2014.
Arizona State is another offensive powerhouse. We saw them hang 68 on Texas Tech in a shootout last month and 51 on Cal last week. The Sun Devils are 7th in the FBS with 48.8 points a game this season. Arizona State puts up 507.8 yards per game on offense. The Sun Devils like to run the ball. They have Demario Richard (348 yards, TD), Kalen Ballage (277 yards, 9 TD) and QB Manny Wilkins (263 yards, 4 TD) to do damage on the ground. Arizona State piles up 236.5 yards per game and 4.8 yards per carry this season. USC is allowing 193 yards per game and 4.7 yards per carry on the ground this year. The Trojans don’t generate many big plays on defense: USC has five sacks and five takeaways in four games.
USC is struggling to move the ball with any regularity. The Trojans are averaging 358.8 yards of offense per game. USC is 108th in the FBS with a 22 point per game average. The Trojans are 80th in passing offense (215.8 ypg) and 95th in rushing (143 ypg) this season. Part of it is lack of opportunities: USC is running about 67 offensive plays per contest. To put it in perspective, Arizona State is running just about 81 a game. Don’t look for a big running day from the Trojans in this one. Arizona State is stout against the run as they allow 95 yards per game and just 3.1 yards per carry.
If USC is going to exploit a weakness, they have to throw the ball. The Trojans need to get JuJu Smith-Schuster and Darreus Rogers in matchups down the field. Their size and athleticism needs to be utilized in order to jump start a stagnant Trojans offense. Arizona State is allowing 404 yards per game through the air. Opposing QBs complete 62.6 percent of their attempts and average 14.4 yards per completion. The Sun Devils allow nine yards per pass ATTEMPT this season. If there’s an Achilles heel for Todd Graham’s team, it’s that the blitzing scheme he runs leads to big plays when guys get beat in coverage.
The Trojans, if they’re going to salvage their season, have to win this game. That means they have to take advantage of the matchups in the passing game. The Sun Devils are excellent defending the run but they can’t stop the pass without having 17 guys on the field. USC’s issue is they can’t decide on a QB, much less a game plan that lets them utilize the stars they have on the outside. Arizona State runs the ball at will to set up the pass. If USC wins, it’s a close one. That’s why I’m taking the points and the Sun Devils, even on the road. For the rest of our week 5 roundup, check here!
Arizona State is 4-0 ATS in their last 4 conference games and 7-1 ATS vs. a team with a losing record. USC is 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games overall and 1-6 ATS in their last 7 conference games.