ASU football dominated by USC in homecoming game

The Sun Devils reverted back to old habits against the Trojans

ASU football had a chance to clinch at least a share of the Pac-12 South with a win, but USC dominated from start to finish. 

The Sun Devils (4-4, 3-2 Pac-12) could not tackle in the open field and as a result, the Trojans (7-2, 5-1 Pac-12) won the game, 48-17, in front of 53,446 fans at Sun Devil Stadium in Tempe. 

USC junior tailback Ronald Jones II rushed for 216 yards on 18 carries (12 yards per carry), and was not dropped for a loss. Jones’ two touchdowns on the night went for over 60 yards. 

“We tried to mix things up, but we just gave up big plays,” head coach Todd Graham said. “That is something we hadn’t done, so you got to give them a lot of credit. They have a lot of big play capability, but we just played poorly.”

USC redshirt sophomore quarterback Sam Darnold finished the night 19-for-35 with 266 yards, three touchdowns and a long pass of 47 yards. USC redshirt freshman wide receiver Tyler Vaughns caught six passes for 126 yards, including a long of 42 yards and two touchdowns. 

Entering Saturday, the Sun Devils averaged the fewest penalties total (22) and per game (3.14) in the nation — but ASU committed 10 penalties for 99 yards.

Senior linebacker DJ Calhoun said that is “something we should not have done.”

“We’re way better than that,” Calhoun said. “Coach Graham told us when they came out, they were going to be talking. Some of us bought into it, which is poor by us and shows a lack of our character.” 

On offense, ASU could not establish a run game. The Sun Devils ran the ball for 79 yards on 30 carries, an average of just 2.9 yards per carry. 

In addition, the Sun Devils went 1-for-12 on third down. In comparison, USC converted seven of their 15 third down attempts. 

“You’ve got to get off the field,” Graham said. “They throw a 5-yard out-cut for a touchdown because we missed the tackle – we haven’t done that. You have to give them a lot of credit because they have a lot of good skill players. They were very physical on the outside.”

Redshirt junior quarterback Manny Wilkins completed 17 of his 29 passes for 259 yards, a touchdown and no interceptions. Sophomore wide receiver Kyle Williams caught a team-high seven passes for 121 yards, including a long of 47, and a touchdown. 

But Wilkins was sacked six times and as a result — the offense could not get anything going. In spite of that, Wilkins blamed his own play for the offense’s inability to establish a rhythm and execution on third down.

“(I’ve) got to play better at quarterback, got to make some better decisions and put us in better position to score points,” Wilkins said. 

Ultimately, Graham said when a team does not play its best against a Pac-12 opponent, the final result of Saturday’s game will happen.

“We’ve just got to bounce back and go to the next week,” Graham said. 

Up Next:

ASU will try and bounce back against Colorado (5-4, 2-4 Pac-12) next Saturday, Nov. 4. Kickoff is set for 6:00 p.m. 

 Reach the reporter at or follow @joejacquezaz on Twitter.

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