With last week's drubbing still fresh in our minds, it's hard to get excited to play the team who's already knocked off last year's PAC-12 champions. The Trojans welcome the reeling Devils to Los Angeles, with the intention of further repairing their playoff resume after Boston College caught them sleeping almost three weeks ago in Chestnut Hill. With no sole USC writer on staff, I have been left to stand alone to create a USC-ASU preview that is impartial and free of all bias. One man. Alone. Odds against him. Versus his inner writing voice. In a battle for preview blog supremacy... So, I'll try my best. No promises.
- Good news/bad news on the USC defense: Bad news, USC has allowed less than 160 yards on the ground in three games this season, capped with a stout performance against the circa 1980 Stanford power run offense. Good news, BC and their spread option run attack scorched them for 452. We'll see if they've figured out the spread run come Saturday.
- No TK? No problem? Mike Bercovici did manage to throw for 488 yards last week against UCLA... but with his 68 attempts, that averages out to about 7.18 yards per attempt. If you're into sadomasochism, compare that to Kelly's 9.19 YPA and you should find yourself sobbing profusely, praying DJ Foster touches the ball 40 times Saturday.
- Speaking of DJ Foster, UCLA held him to just 9 carries for just 30 yards last Thursday. Expect USC to use a similar strategy of loading the box with seven or more and laughing maniacally as Bercovici fails to take advantage.
- While Jamil Douglas & Company managed to kept Berco upright last week, USC's Leonard Williams is arguably the best defensive lineman in the NCAA, with quiet murmurs that a strong season could launch him into the NFL Draft's top 5. If you like trench battles, Douglas v Williams should be World War III.
- USC Fun Fact: "A monkey gargoyle at the top of the Gwynn Wilson Student Union building thumbs his nose at the bust of past university president Rufus von KleinSmid, reputedly because of a quarrel he had with the architect over redesigning the building." Give a man the finger and you upset him for a day. Immortalize your hatred in stone and you upset him for a lifetime.
- There's no way our defense could look as bad as it did last week, right? About that... USC puts up about 447 yards per game, led by Cody Kessler and the passing attack's 278. Plus, my money's on Javorius Allen to cover the difference. You wouldn't be too off base to say this could turn into the Shootout at the O.K. Corral... or for those living in the 21st Century, 0 to 100. Real quick.
- #TrojansBreakUnderPressure will never not illicit a smirk. That might be because I'm an high school freshman at heart, but if that's so wrong, I don't wanna be right.
- Good offensive news is a welcome surprise. To reiterate what every 2-bit college football commentator has said about the Trojans this season, the fact they have a smaller roster stemming from their sanctions should play into the hands of our no huddle. For once the NCAA being a crooked organization, that thinks a student benefiting from his hard work and buying his family a home is worse than harboring a pedophile, might work out in our favor. Yay?
- What's the point of doing anything if you don't look good doing it? ASU will be wearing their white away jersey, with a double helping of black on the pants and helmet. For all those wondering, these will be the original black helmets, which leads me to assume the jinxed fire helmets have been torched in tribute to the college football god (Brent Musburger). USC also reportedly will be wearing their new "Shiny Cherry" (completely made that up) helmets on Saturday.
- This battle of the no-huddles means a few things. 1. Any secret smoker on either team will be weened out immediately. 2. Vegas will be hanging out free money on the over. 3. Allocated about four hours for this one to play out. I suggest maybe perusing an online blog or two if boredom strikes. I hear Pacific Takes has some pretty cool roundtables... Just a thought.
Remember guys, this time a year ago, we beat USC so bad they left their head coach behind on the tarmac at LAX. With such an embarrassing performance last week, Coach Todd Graham should have his boys whipped into shape and ready to play. Maybe we won't get the dub, but if we stay in this thing right down to the wire, it'll go a long away in dictating how the rest of our season goes. Have good weekend guys, stay safe, and go Devils!