ASU will beat USC on Saturday

The Sun Devils have what it takes to upset another ranked opponent

On Saturday, ASU will upset the No. 21 University of Southern California (USC) Trojans.

After defeating Utah on the road for their first Pac-12 road win since 2015, the Sun Devils are now one of the most intriguing teams in all of college football.

Redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins has lead the way for the Sun Devils all season with an impressive 141.3 passer rating. On the other side of the ball, the ASU defense has allowed only 17 points in its last two games.

Two weeks ago, then-No. 5 Washington had entered Sun Devil Stadium having averaged 43 points per game. ASU’s defense allowed only 139 passing yards and held Huskies junior quarterback Jake Browning to a 30.9 quarterback rating

This defeat, even more impressive than Utah, has put ASU football in the spotlight.

"Now they're playing the best defense they have played since Todd Graham has been there," Doug Haller, ASU football and basketball beat writer for the Arizona Republic, said. "They've tackled better than they have been tackling in years."

After two games in which the Sun Devils played superb defense, ASU will be going up against the strongest offense they have faced yet in USC.

Trojans redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold is 10th nationwide in passing yards, and the USC offense is currently ninth in the country in total yards.

With Darnold regarded as a top quarterback prospect in the upcoming NFL Draft, there was a lot of hype surrounding the Trojans. To start the year, USC was ranked No. 4.

The weakness of the USC offense has been turnovers. Darnold has been responsible for 16 of 19 Trojan turnovers this season. 

"(Darnold) has struggled a little bit this year," Haller said. 

Just last week, ASU created turnovers on the defensive end, intercepting Utah sophomore quarterback Tyler Huntley four times. 

If the Sun Devil defense can force Darnold and company to turn over the ball, ASU will shut down the USC offense and create opportunities to score for itself.

On offense, ASU is coming off a strong 30-point performance against the Utes, which at one point was ranked No. 20

Wilkins has been efficient and smart under center alongside his go-to guy, sophomore wide receiver N’Keal Harry. Harry currently leads all Sun Devil wide receivers with 51 receptions for 627 yards and three touchdowns

Senior running backs Kalen Ballage and Demario Richard have given the Sun Devil offense a balanced attack, each rushing for over 300 yards on the season.

"They've turned into this ball-control offense that is sustaining drives," Haller said. "It keeps their defense off the field, and it keeps the other teams offense off of the field, which is always good."

ASU’s offense will be going up against USC's unimpressive defense this Saturday. USC is tied for 71st in points allowed per game and allowed 49 points against the University of Notre Dame just last week.

Wilkins, Harry and the ASU offense should have no trouble putting points up on the board against a struggling USC defense.

Following the loss against Notre Dame, the heavily-favored Trojans are now vulnerable against the red-hot Sun Devils. 

"I think they have a great chance (at winning this week)," Haller said "(USC is) more vulnerable than a lot of people have thought (heading into the season)."

With USC as beatable as ever, ASU will be able to capitalize on the Trojans' struggles and send Sun Devil fans home happy for the fifth time this year.


Reach the columnist at kokiriley3@gmail.com and on twitter @Kokiriley.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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