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USC vs. Arizona State review: Marqise Lee, Trojans bounce back

Wide receiver Marqise Lee had 10 catches for 161 yards as USC snapped their two-game losing streak on Saturday in Los Angeles.

Stephen Dunn

Nice win, Trojans.

After a couple of hard losses to Arizona and Oregon, the USC Trojans bounced back against the pesky Arizona State Sun Devils, winning at home 38-17 on Saturday.

The Trojans started off slow, with turnovers that led to quick Arizona points. But USC’s defense, whom have disappeared the past two games, made a strong appearance by holding the ASU offense for 17 points.

While the USC defense had a great day, Marqise Lee was exceptional once again. The sophomore continues his stellar year with his 11th 100-plus receiving yard game, in 22 games at receiver. This game only helped Lee’s chances at having a seat in New York, for the prestigious Heisman Trophy. More on Lee in a bit, but first, let’s digest this win for the Trojans.

Matt Barkley was his usual hot and cold self. The senior threw for three touchdowns while throwing for 222 yards, but threw three interceptions. Barkley said during last week’s practices that he wants to cut downs on his interceptions, however he had two picks in 20 minutes in the first half. The Trojans lack of rhythm led to an up-beat Sun Devils squad, a USC team with captain center Khaled Holmes yelling at his teammates "This isn’t USC Trojans football! This is a Disgrace!"

USC’s receipe started with Lee, but the main ingredient was its running game. Curtis McNeal had a big game. Rushing for 163 yards with a couple of touchdowns, McNeal balanced the Trojans offensive attack with Arizona State confused on defense. Head coach Lane Kiffin typically has "pass-friendly" plays at the ready on his play sheet, but McNeal’s offense was tough to ignore. For his lack of ideal NFL size, McNeal’s 5-7, 190 stature had 31 carries.

Sun Devils quarterback, Tom Kelly, had his toughest game of the year. For a quarterback with a solid 20 to 6 touchdown-interception ratio, Kelly threw three interceptions. The interceptions puts the Trojans second in the nation with 18 interceptions.

Kelly went 19 for 30, good numbers for a quarterback, but the Trojans tough defensive line made Kelly throw a couple of errant throws that led to USC defensive lineman Leonard Williams and middle linebacker Lamar Dawson to have their first career interceptions.

The Trojans defense proved to be extremely tough against a well-schemed Sun Devils pro-style offense. Even with turnovers leading to red-zone opportunities for the Sun Devils, Trojans made it difficult for Arizona State to score, limiting them to three points in those turnovers.

The Trojans will now face archrivals UCLA Bruins at the Rose Bowl on Saturday. Making this big win miniature, as rival week begins.

Marqise Lee Becomes Best Player in College Football
Lee is leading the nation in receiving yards with 1,447 and also leading receptions by a wide margin of 98. His performance has led him in talks for the Heisman Trophy with Kansas State’s Colin Klein and Notre Dame’s Manti Te'o.

There was a play in the fourth quarter where Lee proved to be worthy of the Trophy. After a toss-sweep, reverse play that had Marqise Lee behind the line of scrimmage about 15 yards; Lee made nothing out of something. His creativity on the field and fancy footwork led me to memories of when No. 5 played at the Coliseum in 2005. Lee gained 40 yards on that play, while playing sick as he had a serious case of food poisoning that made his face swollen at gametime.

This week will be big for the Trojans as they will face a Bruins football team that is having big success under first-year head coach Jim Mora. Will there be any pranks between the both schools? Any more trash talk between team’s players on Twitter? Trash talk between both coaches? This rivalry never fails without some drama leading up to the game. But 50-0 did happen last year.