USC Football Plays At Arizona State In Final Road Game
Nov. 1, 2009
No. 12 USC hits the road for the sixth and final time of the 2009 regular season when it visits Arizona State. Troy has captured the last 9 meetings in its young series with ASU (the Trojans have played the Sun Devils less than any other league foe). Both teams are looking to rebound from tough losses last weekend, USC getting shell-shocked at Oregon in the worst loss of the Pete Carroll era and ASU falling in the final seconds at home to California. Carroll, college football's winningest active coach (84.7%), has never lost a game in November (27-0). USC's school record of consecutive games ranked in the AP Top 25 hits 100 this week, but the Trojans' streaks of 7 consecutive Pac-10 titles, AP Top 4 finishes, BCS bowl trips and 11-win seasons could be in jeopardy. Troy is playing one of the nation's most difficult schedules. USC will be looking for its offense to stay productive and its defense to tighten up drastically. The Trojan offense is averaging 426 total yards (191 on the ground) and 30 points per game behind the passing of true freshman QB Matt Barkley, the running of TBs Joe McKnight and Allen Bradford, the receiving of WRs Damian Williams (he is also second nationally in punt returns) and Ronald Johnson and the blocking of OG-C Jeff Byers. But Troy's defense, which was allowing less than 240 total yards and 9 points in each of the first 5 games of 2009, has suddenly surrendered nearly 490 total yards (almost 210 rushing) and 37 points in each of the past 3 outings. Still, the defense--which features 2-time All-American S Taylor Mays--is among the nation's best in sacks and tackles for losses (DE Everson Griffen is the Pac-10's sack leader). Arizona State head coach Dennis Erickson has guided 3 different Pac-10 schools against USC, but he is just 1-6 against the Trojans. The Sun Devils have been on a W-W-L-L-W-W-L-L pattern so far in 2009. ASU sports the Pac-10's top rushing defense (allowing just 80 yards per game) and total defense (296 yards) and also ranks high nationally in scoring defense (19 points) and turnover margin (+0.9). LBs Mike Nixon and true freshman Vontaze Burfict are the top tacklers on a unit that already has 13 interceptions. Offensively, there are a number of veteran skill position players, including QB Danny Sullivan, TB Dimitri Nance and WRs Chris McGaha and Kyle Williams. The game will be televised live regionally by ABC-TV.