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2020 Game 1: USC vs. Arizona State

Nov 6, 2020

Gameday Central

Arizona State Sun Devils (0-0) at No. 20 USC Trojans (0-0)

United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at 9 a.m. PT on FOX

Sun Devil to Watch: Sophomore QB Jayden Daniels

The season opener pits the Pac-12's superstar sophomore quarterbacks against each other. The Trojans did not see Daniels when the two teams met last season in Tempe, but he had a strong freshman campaign, using his legs to make plays and protecting the ball in the passing game. He threw two interceptions the whole season and did not throw a pick in his last 154 attempts, the longest active streak in the conference. He also led the Sun Devils to three wins over Top 25 teams.

3 Keys
Rise and Shine

USC and ASU agreed to be guinea pigs for the Pac-12's 9 a.m. experiment to raise the national television profile of the conference. The Trojans have trained to be ready the moment the sun rises, and they have not expressed any concerns about the early start. In a way, the opening game reflects the nature of this 2020 season. It's going to be abnormal and uncomfortable at times. And, the team that wins will show a sense of urgency from the start as the early game and the shortened season require a sprinter's mindset. Get out of the blocks quickly!

Fear of the Unknown

Arizona State hired new offensive and defensive coordinators in the offseason, while the Trojans changed out the whole defensive and special teams staff. Without non-conference games and with very little preseason coverage due to COVID restrictions, nobody is quite sure what we are going to see on Saturday. The most accomplished unit is the USC offense, going into year two under Graham Harrell, having lost only three starters from last season. While Harrell is not sure what ASU will show him defensively, he is confident in the Trojans' ability to run their staff efficiently and effectively, and use their experience to adjust on the fly. The other side of the ball is more of a mystery, but in terms of personnel, USC DC Todd Orlando inherited a defense that lost only two starters from last season.

Fast and Physical

While the Trojans weren't playing in September and October, they had the luxury of watching other teams start the season and take away lessons from this bizarre year. The early trend was pretty clear, tackling has been an issue and shootouts have been aplenty. Knowing this, USC emphasized tackling drills and live scrimmages during fall camp in an effort to get its defense up to speed before the opener. Orlando and his new defensive staff are trying to restore the attitude to the Trojans defense which is coming off a subpar season, and the Sun Devils might be their biggest test in the Pac-12 South.