No. 5 USC looks to avoid letdown against battered Arizona State in first road game
Thu, Sep 21, 2023
NCAAF News (AP)
No. 5 Southern California (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) at Arizona State (1-2, 0-0), Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET (Fox)
Line: USC by 35 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook
Series record: USC leads 25-14.
WHAT'S AT STAKE?
The Trojans look to avoid a letdown against a bruised and battered team in their first road game of 2023. USC has rolled through its first three games after beating Stanford 56-10 last week, its highest-scoring game against the Cardinal in a series that dates to 1905. QB Caleb Williams has been stellar after winning the Heisman Trophy last season, throwing for 878 yards and 12 TDs despite playing just eight quarters through three games. The Sun Devils have gotten off to a rocky start in their first season under coach Kenny Dillingham. Arizona State has been plagued by injuries at key positions - notably quarterback - and is coming off its first home shutout since 1988 after losing 29-0 to Fresno State.
USC's offense vs. Arizona State's defense. The Trojans have been unstoppable so far this season, scoring at least 56 points their first three games. USC has at least 500 yards of offense in four straight games dating to last season and has 12 players with at least one catch in every game this year. Arizona State's defense did the best it could last week, but wasn't able to overcome eight turnovers. Most of the Sun Devils' injury woes are on offense, but several key defensive players are also dealing with injuries.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
USC: WR Zachariah Branch. Branch had a 75-yard punt return for a TD last week and had a 96-yard kickoff return for a TD against San Jose State. He also has two receiving TDs, becoming the third USC player since 1971 - first since Adoree' Jackson in 2016 - with punt, kickoff and receiving TDs in a season.
Arizona State: QB Jacob Conover. The former four-star recruit is Arizona State's fourth-string quarterback, but may get the start with the top three dealing with injuries. Jaden Rashada will likely miss his second straight game with an undisclosed injury and both Trenton Bourguet and Drew Pyne were injured against Fresno State. Conover threw for 89 yards on 6-of-16 passing and had two interceptions last week.
FACTS & FIGURES
The meeting could be the last between the teams with USC headed to the Big Ten and Arizona State going to the Big 12 next season. ... Arizona State is looking to avoid its first three-game losing streak since 2009. ... The Trojans have won 12 straight games against unranked opponents. ... Arizona State has forced 52 missed tackles, seventh in the FBS. ... USC has 26 plays of at least 20 yards, tied for fourth in the FBS.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll"