Behind the Numbers: ASU football suffers major setback against USC

The Sun Devils played undisciplined football in a homecoming loss to the Trojans

The anticipation could not have been at a higher level. A striped-out Sun Devil Stadium of 53,000-plus fans readied for ASU football's biggest game of the season – a homecoming date with rival USC and at least a share of first place in the Pac-12 South division on the line. 

Both teams knew the importance of Saturday night's contest in Tempe, but it was the No. 21 Trojans (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) that had last laugh, defeating the Sun Devils (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) 48-17, to take control of the South.  

“We played very, very poorly," head coach Todd Graham said. "Obviously, you have to give them credit. They whipped our butts. They out coached us and out played us."

Here is how USC controlled the game.


ASU committed 10 penalties for 99 yards. 

Entering the game, the Sun Devils had committed the fewest penalties overall (22) and the fewest penalties per game (3.14) in the nation. 


Five of the Sun Devils 10 penalties were 15-yard personal foul infractions, including three by senior defensive lineman Tashon Smallwood. 

ASU came in second nationally in fewest penalty yards overall (217) and fewest penalty yards per game (31) this season. 


USC had five plays go for 30 yards or more, including a 67-yard rushing touchdown by junior tailback Ronald Jones II


The Trojans averaged 7.5 yards per play against an ASU defense that held its last opponent, Utah, to 4.4 yards per play. 


ASU converted 8.3 percent (1-for-12) of its third down opportunities against USC. 

Last week at Utah, the Sun Devils converted 50 percent of its third down chances (8-for-16). 


ASU ran 75 plays but could only muster 15 first downs, six fewer than last week's win against the Utes.


Six of ASU's 14 total drives (43 percent) resulted in a three-and-out.

This was one reason why the Sun Devils could not get into any rhythm offensively.


Redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins was sacked six times for a loss of 31 yards. 

Despite throwing for over 200 yards, six sacks limited his ability to make plays. 


USC finished the night with 607 total yards of offense, compared to 357 yards for ASU.

Jones rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns, and USC redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold threw for 266 yards and three touchdowns. 


ASU could only muster 79 rushing yards on 30 carries. Senior tailback Kalen Ballage was sick and missed the game, according to Graham, but fellow senior running back Demario Richard only ran for 70 yards on 15 carries. 

This performance came one week after the Sun Devils ran for 205 yards on 46 attempts against Utah. 


In three-straight losses to USC, counting Saturday night's debacle, the Sun Devils have been outscored 131-51. 

Reach the reporter at or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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