Arizona State vs USC prediction: Trojans head home to face Sun Devils

It may not have gone to plan, but USC went undefeated with a hard-fought road win over Oregon State last weekend and now must avoid a home disappointment this Saturday against an Arizona State team that the Trojans should handle with ease.

Between the series history with the Beavers and the attention this game was getting for an entirely different reason, this Oregon State led USC (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) entering the fourth quarter at Reser Stadium last Saturday night. shouldn’t have shocked anyone. The score (7-3) probably did, however, given that the over/under of this game was MUCH higher, approaching 70 points for some sportsbooks. More importantly, the Trojans got it when it mattered most, scoring two touchdowns in the fourth, with the game-winner coming with just 1:13 to go after the Beavers regained the lead. An interception (fourth take away of the game) sealed the satisfying 17-14 win. This game was a real street fight, and it must have been very encouraging for the fanbase to not only see USC find a way to win this type of contest, but to do it on the road against a well-drilled team.

Now that Lincoln Riley’s team has survived its first real test of the season, Saturday’s home game against Arizona State (1-3, 0-1 Pac-12) shouldn’t be so tough. But that also doesn’t mean that Trojans can completely ignore sun devils. It’s unclear how a team with an interim coach will play or what said coach will even take away from his team, but it wouldn’t be the first time a bad team destined for a bad season managed to upset a ranked side. There’s also the fact that these two teams have split their last four meetings (ASU won at Temple last season, 31-16), but that happened with Herm Edwards at the helm, and he’s gone.

So, after passing the road test, USC has to face the interim coach test. It’s unclear how much can be gleaned from watching Arizona State’s recent film, so don’t be surprised if Riley digs deep into her bag of tricks and the Trojans try some things on the fly Saturday. As long as it ends in a (convincing) victory, I don’t think anyone will care.

Arizona State at No. 6 USC

To start up: Saturday, October 1 at 10:30 p.m. ET
TV: FOX
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Spread: USC-26
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When Arizona State has the ball

Interim head coach Shaun Aguano is unlikely to get the full-time job, but he can still go down in history and become the answer to a trivial question – who was the first coach to beat Lincoln Riley when he took over as head coach of USC? Aguano, raised from the running backs coach following the September 18 firing of Herm Edwards, has only been with the Sun Devils since 2019. He was previously the head coach at Chandler High School, l one of the largest high schools in the state. no stranger to being a head coach (and likely has some connection to most of the homegrown players on the roster). However, he doesn’t even have FBS-level coordinator experience, so trying to predict what Aguano is going to do from a game planning standpoint might just be a wild ride.

Considering Aguano is probably well aware that he’s unlikely to be a strong contender for the full-time job, he really has nothing to lose and everything to gain from how this team responds to him. ‘coming. These circumstances sometimes make the opponent the most dangerous, and Aguano knows the pressure is on Lincoln Riley and the Trojans.

Aguano will likely continue to rely on running back Xazavian Valladay. The transfer from Wyoming is second in the Pac-12 with 391 rushing yards and averaging 6.5 yards per carry. USC’s defense was somewhat responsive on the field, giving up 153 yards and a pair of touchdowns against Oregon State last week. Valladay’s efficiency will only help quarterback Emory Jones. Florida’s transfer has three touchdown passes with two interceptions in four games as Arizona State struggled to do much through the air (204.5 ypg, 11th in conference). There’s also the fact that the Trojans lead the nation with 11 picks (vs. 2 TD assists allowed), including four from Chance Nolan last week.

When USC has the ball

Despite the win, there’s no denying that Oregon State’s defense frustrated the Trojans offense throughout the game. Caleb Williams rallied late, throwing what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown pass to Jordan Addison, but otherwise his performance (16 for 36, 180 yards) had some members of the media wondering if he was injured. He’ll have a chance to bounce back against an Arizona State defense that gave up 465 total yards in last week’s 34-13 home loss to Utah.

Travis Dye carried the offense with 133 yards rushing and a touchdown on 19 carries, but the Beavers gave him every yard. Austin Jones and Raleek Brown, who combined for 19 yards on eight carries last week, will likely see more carries to spell Dye. And there should be room to run against a Sun Devils defense that’s giving up 182.5 rushing yards per game.

While USC certainly wants to show that last Saturday’s performance was not up to snuff, this game should also give Riley a chance to rest his starters in the second half and give the substitutes some game time. The coaching staff will have to weigh the blowout points/style factor to ensure their roster is in the best shape to navigate the heart of the Pac-12 slate. No one wants to waste an entry in garbage time.

Final analysis

USC knows it needs to post a convincing win over a team like Arizona State to help the “eye test,” especially after getting a breakaway on the road against Oregon State. And because of the Sun Devils’ current state, it’s the type of play that may do more harm than good to the Trojans’ national profile.

There is also a bit of synchronicity in this whole situation. Arizona State was the team that beat USC so hard in 2013 when then-head coach Lane Kiffin was pulled from the team bus and sent back to the airport shortly after his back to Los Angeles. Now the Sun Devils face the Trojans a week after their head coach was fired from the field immediately following a home loss to a Michigan school directional MAC. This common history should give way to a rout on Saturday.

Prediction: USC 48, Arizona State 15

Podcast: Week 5 preview, predictions and picks against the spread

– Written by Kane Webb, Athlon Contributor Network and Southern California sportswriter. Follow him on Twitter @FightOnTwist.

*Price at publication.