College Gameday may be down south today, but USC-ASU is still one of the biggest games this weekend. Both preseason contenders for the College Football Playoffs, both suffered losses to big name schools who had been down on their luck as of late. For Arizona State, beating USC gets them their first win over a Power 5 school this season. For USC, a win helps them rebound from Stanford last week and avenge their past two losses to ASU, the #JaelMary and Pat Haden making Kiffin take a cab home from LAX.
- Lessons from the Lobos: Super DeMario decided to join the party. For the first time this season, he actually looked capable of replacing DJ Foster in the backfield, not only rushing for over 100 yards and nearly seven yards per carry, but racking up 151 receiving yards courtesy of a 93 yard screen pass he took to the house. Bercovici finally broke the 300 passing yard ceiling for the first time since the last time we played SC. But take away Richard's 93 yard grab, Berco would have averaged only 6 yards per attempt (yikes). OC Norvell still hasn't found a way to showcase Mike's arm strength without Jaelen Strong, which means teams can still crowd the box and dare us to beat them deep. Lucien seems to be gradually getting more comfortable in this offense, so let's pray this is the week we can unleash the deep ball. Let little DJ get the underneath stuff and let Devin go get it. The defense was solid again, with Simone leading the way with a hard night's work; ten tackles, a pick and a sack. Truth be told, he might be the only Devil actually meeting his sky high preseason expectations. The defense has made up for our slow starts so far, something they hopefully don't have to do on Saturday.
- The Trojan Tandem: Offensively, the Trojans are a two headed monster. Head one is senior quarterback Cody Kessler. The preseason Heisman favorite ranks 14th in passing yards and is the last man standing of the top 25 with zero interceptions, leading to a #3 passing efficiency rating. The best quarterback Sark has coached as a top dog (*U-Dub fans calmly grab pitchforks and Jake Locker jerseys*), Kessler could still reemerge in the Heisman conversation, granted the Trojans can withstand the Maroon Monsoon on Saturday.
- The Trojan Tandem 2: Head two is Mr. JuJu Smith-Schuster. With Nelson Agholor
plotting againstplaying for Chip Kelly in Philly, JuJu has kicked off his sophomore season with a stellar start, ranking third in the FBS in receiving. The only Trojan receiver with double digit receptions and triple digit receiving yards, it's a safe bet that when Kessler airs it out, it'll be to Jujifruit... or Jujubean; whatever Trojan Twitter prefers.
- As a head ball coach, Steve Sarkisian has always had
an alleged alcohol problema 1,000 yard rusher. The trendy preseason favorite to carry the torch was senior Tre Madden, who leads the team in carries early this year. The injury bug has been a chronic problem for Madden, who may not be able to go on Saturday after hurting his left knee against the Cardinal. Even with Madden healthy, Sark seems to be trending towards a running back by committee approach, with four backs sitting at double digit carries. Expect junior Justin Davis and true freshman Ronald Jones to help carry the load if Tre is limited. Jones has already received rave reviews, including a comparison to Reggie Bush by former SC quarterback Matt Leinart.
- Opponent Fun Fact: "The USC marching band is the only one in the United States that has earned a platinum record. In fact, the band's earned two." HO HUM, casual humble brag from USC.edu. You may have played on two platinum records, been featured in like a billion and two movies, and produced a Grammy winner, but our Wikipedia page is considerably longer. So, HA.