USC vs. Arizona State preview: Can the Trojans rebound?

Stephen Dunn

The reeling USC Trojans look to snap their two-game losing streak on Saturday afternoon

It's been a rough two weeks for USC Trojans football fans.

After being an Associated Press pre-season No. 1 team and a favorite to compete for the national championship in Miami, head coach Lane Kiffin's team has found themselves 6-3 for the season, tarnishing those high expectations which began when Matt Barkley announced that he would be returning for his fourth year at USC.

Worse yet, USC has suffered its worst loss statistically since Stanford in 2010 after giving up 730 yards of offense to the Oregon Ducks, who defeated the Trojans in the Coliseum last Saturday 62-51.

With two straight losses, totaling to 101 points in defeat, Kiffin is looking to bounce back searching for a win in Los Angeles on Saturday as the USC Trojans (6-3) face visiting Arizona State. Sun Devils (5-4, 3-3).

ASU first-year head coach Todd Graham had a successful first half. Arizona State started 5-1, with the lone loss to the Missouri Tigers and narrowly be defeated 24-20. However, the Sun Devils season took a turn for the worst as they are facing three straight losses, to ranked teams Oregon, UCLA, and Oregon State.

Still, Graham has put ASU to be a formidable opponent.

ASU quarterback Taylor Kelly is having a fine season under center for the Sun Devils. He has 20 touchdowns to his six interceptions and throwing at a respectable 65.5% clip.

The Sun Devils also like to spread the ball around to their running backs, with true freshman D.J. Foster leading the way. ASU's running attack is 41st in the nation, averaging 187 yards a game.

With ASU's balanced offensive gameplan, how will USC recover from two straight losses to the Sun Devil's three?

The Trojans defense has no where to go, but up after being a no-show against Oregon. And luckily for USC, ASU doesn't rush its snaps. Monte Kiffin's pro-style defensive schemes should be more effective against the balance offense rather than the run-happy teams such as Arizona and Oregon.

Matt Barkley looks to continue his hot passing, but Arizona State has quite a formidable secondary, they are first in the conference and 7th in the nation in passing defense, giving up only 161.6 yards per game.

Look for Arizona State to cause problems for Barkley all game, they are second in the conference with 38 sacks. Barkley is at his worst when there is pressure in the pocket. Will we see another near-INT as he throws the ball while falling down from an ASU defensive sack? Barkley has not waned the habit to stop.

Which is where Redd and the USC running backs are going to have to step up, as well as Kiffin's running gameplan. If there is a dent to ASU's impressive defense, it's against the run. The Sun Devils are giving up 171 yards of rushing to their opponents, 8th in conference.

Both teams are a combined 1-5 in the past three games, both are starving for wins. Who's going to win? I think the Trojans luck this won out.

Prediction: USC 28 ASU 24

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