The set-up: USC traveled to Tempe, Ariz. for its first road test to play the Arizona State Sun Devils, who were fresh off of a loss against Illinois. With the two teams projected to finish near the top of the Pac-12 South in the preseason, the game figured have serious implications for divisions supremacy. Matt Barkley looked to continue his strong start to the season and atone for a poor performance the last time he went to Tempe. Meanwhile, while the Sun Devils looked to show that their defense was as good as advertised.
The story: The Trojans fell behind early to the Sun Devils on a 70 yard touchdown run by Cameron Marshall. Freshman kicker Andre Heidari closed the margin by kicking a field goal to make the score 7-3 at the end of the first.
In the second quarter, ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler threw two short touchdown passes, while Trojan quarterback Matt Barkley threw a costly interception inside of the Devil’s 25-yard line to fierce linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Heidari kicked two more field goals to make the score 21-9 at the half.
The Trojans came out firing in the second half, and at times looked unstoppable. Barkley threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to freshman receiver Marqise Lee to make the score 21-16. The Trojans came up with a defensive stop and once again marched down the field. The drive was capped off by a Marc Tyler touchdown run, giving USC the lead, 22-21.
Just as things started to turn for the better, the Trojans became their own worst enemies. A pass interference call allowed the Devils to score again, and a Tyler fumble on the next drive at ASU’s 25-yard line killed momentum.
The fourth quarter saw Barkley fumble the ball inside of ASU’s 20-yard line and throw an interception that was taken back for a touchdown. Things never got back on track for the Trojans and they ended up losing by a final margin of 43-22.
Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers: USC ended any chances they had at a comeback in the game by committing costly turnovers in Sun Devil territory. Three of the Trojans four turnovers occurred inside of the Sun Devil 30-yard line. In the first half, USC scored only six points on three red zone trips. Lane Kiffin summed it up best after the loss. “A lot of mistakes and issues with guys that haven’t really played too much,” he said.
Penalties Galore: The Trojans were guilty of 10 penalties, each of which seemed to give ASU life once again. Safety T.J. McDonald committed three personal fouls himself, each at a seemingly terrible time.
Up Next: The Trojans play host to the Arizona Wildcats (1-3) this coming Saturday at 12:30 PM at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Arizona is in the middle of a brutal stretch of games that included No. 5 Stanford and No. 10 Oregon.