This weekend presents the USC Trojans with their first road test of the season as they travel to Arizona State University for a Pac-12 showdown. History shows that the Trojans have won 11 straight games in this series, including five straight games in Tempe. This series, however, is far less comfortable than those records suggest.
According to a report by ESPN LA's Mark Saxon, the Trojans are getting physical in practice this week to prepare for ASU. That includes hits after the whistle, cheap-shots and taunting. Why? It's simple: to get the team ready for its battle in the dessert.
USC has had several heated encounters with ASU over the past few years, and USC players have reported several dirty hits and plays by the Sun Devils during that game. Last season, for example, linebacker Vontaze Burficit was called for a late hit that ultimately helped USC extend its final drive and win the game.
But Burficit's case isn't an isolated incident. The players report frequent hits when the two teams get together, and coach Lane Kiffin wants his team to be prepared for that. The result has been late hits in practice all week. It's an interesting strategy: let's just hope that no one gets seriously hurt between now and Saturday's game.