The students are ready, camping out for days in 100 degree plus temperatures, for a game that will set the tone for two teams in the PAC-12 South.
It is the first real test for Arizona State as they host USC on Saturday.
We all can remember last year’s bizarre turn events that lead to ASU winning on a Hail Mary, or should I say Jael-Mary. The game in 2014 meant more than Saturday’s game, but it’s still a PAC-12 game and a loss could knock either ASU or USC out of the College Playoff.
Oct 4, 2014; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler (6) throws a pass against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The unranked Sun Devils are coming off wins against Cal-Poly and New Mexico, after their week one loss to Texas A&M. For the Trojans they are coming into this game as the number 19 team in the country. They are coming off a heartbreaking loss to Stanford last weekend, after back-to-back dominating wins over Arkansas State and Idaho.
USC is as good as they have been advertised, in the two wins for the Trojans quarterback Cody Kessler has been near perfect, outscoring opponents 114-15. Kessler has been putting up monster numbers completing more than 75 percent of his passes and had 922 yards. He has yet to throw an interception this season, and in his career has only thrown 12.
This is will a tough match-up for the Sun Devils’ defense as they will be playing an offense in USC that is similar to that of Texas A&M. USC has three great wide receivers in JuJu Smith-Schuster, Steven Mitchell Jr. and Darreus Rogers. These receivers are part of the reason USC is so successful on offense. This will be ASU’s task this weekend, intercept and force turnovers on defense.
Sep 18, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils quarterback Mike Bercovici (2) throws a pass to tight end Kody Kohl (83) during the second half against the New Mexico Lobos at Sun Devil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports
On the other side of the ball, ASU’s offense has not seemed to find its rhythm. In all three games the offense seems lost at time, with incomplete passes and odd play calling. If Mike Bercovici and DJ Foster can find each other early and often ASU will have success. The tempo that ASU had in 2014 has slowed, with the loss of Taylor Kelly and Jaelen Strong to graduation. Bercovici began to pick up the pace for the offense in the second half of last week’s game by using his legs to get first downs.
In the first three games, ASU has averaged 4.1 yards on the ground. Demario Richard has 298 yards on the ground averaging 5.3 yards per carry. The Sun Devils need him to be able to get productive yards in order to move the ball on offense. In order for the Sun Devils to be successful on offense they need to be able to pick up yards on the ground.
This game will feature some of the most talented player in the PAC-12. It should be a game that comes down to the wire. If ASU’s offense can get points and the defense can hold USC’s potent offense, then the Sun devils can come out victorious. I predict a close, but successful game for the Sun Devils, coming out with the win, 28-24. Could we see another play like the Jael-Mary? We will see at 7:30pm MT on ESPN.