ASU football gained a much-needed victory over USC at home Saturday night, winning 31-16 thanks in large part to an incredible performance from redshirt senior running back Rachaad White.
White rushed for 202 yards on 28 attempts and 3 touchdowns and seemed to break off a big run whenever the team needed it. After sitting out last week's 34-21 loss to Washington State due to an injury, White returned and instantly gave the ASU offense an enormous boost.
White is the sixth ASU running back in school history to run for more than 200 yards in a Pac-12 game. White was in good spirits after the game when discussing what his performance meant to him and the team after he sat out last week's loss.
"It is a blessing, the team welcomed me back and rallied behind me," White said. "They respected my decision last week in not playing, and to come out and do that tonight was amazing. I give credit to all the receivers and my linemen. It was a blessing and I'm really grateful for tonight."
The biggest play of the night for White and ASU came with the Sun Devils leading with 17-16 with 8:13 left in the fourth quarter. White got loose for an impressive 50-yard touchdown run, going completely untouched en route to the end zone, helping ASU extend its lead.
ASU head coach Herm Edwards lauded White and his big-play capability.
"He is a dramatic back, his game-changing plays obviously, he has very good vision, and is explosive," Edwards said.
ASU junior quarterback Jayden Daniels struggled on Saturday, completing 11 of 20 passes for just 145 yards while throwing two interceptions and missing numerous open receivers. Thankfully for the Sun Devils, they were able to pull out a gritty win even as Daniels struggled with his accuracy during the game.
The Sun Devils lost to USC in a frustrating fashion last season, blowing a 13 point lead in the fourth quarter and losing the game 28-27 in the final minutes. It was clear that this recent victory meant a lot for ASU. ASU graduate student cornerback Chase Lucas, who was on the field for that contest, emphasized just how important the victory on Saturday was to the program.
"This win was huge for us, I know that I won't be able to play them (USC) again, and as a team, we know that we have more things to finish," Lucas said. "It was great to defeat USC, I love this team."
Senior linebacker Darien Butler echoed the comments of Lucas regarding how special it is to beat USC.
"Every time we play them is special, there's always a chip on my shoulder when we play them," Butler said.
Butler and Lucas were key factors in the Sun Devils' stellar defensive performance as a team. The Sun Devils allowed the USC offense to just 16 points total and one touchdown.
Edwards and his team have received a lot of criticism from the media and fans in recent weeks, as the team seemed to be in a great position to win the Pac-12 South before two back-to-back losses made their road towards a title much more challenging.
Edwards has tried to encourage the team to cut out the outside noise.
"There's always going to be the voices that obviously think they know more than the people in the building," Edwards said. "I just try to lift them up and encourage and let them know that it's about the people in the building. We know us better than anybody."
Dealing with adversity when it hits is something Edwards mentioned this week leading up to the game. He had confidence the team would respond much better once it hit them against USC.
"When it arrives at your doorstep how do you look at it," Edwards said. "They reacted the way I thought they would react. This game there was some adversity, but we didn't blink on either side of the ball."
At 4-2 in conference play, ASU is still alive with a chance to win the Pac-12 South if things break the team's way over the final three weeks of the season.
The Sun Devils will look to make it two in a row next week as they will face the University of Washington in Seattle Saturday, Nov. 13 at 5 p.m. MST.
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