Three Takeaways From USC's 38-17 Win Over Arizona State

Stephen Dunn

With the Pac-12 South clincher next week, what did we learn from the Trojans' win?

In case you’re late to the party, No. 19 USC dispatched Arizona State at the Coliseum earlier today to the tune of 38-17, a much-needed dominating win for the Trojans. This victory leads the USC into a Pac-12 South deciding match against UCLA next week at the Rose Bowl. But what did we learn about the Trojans after this afternoon’s win?

So THAT’s what sound defense looks like!

After ASU’s first scoring drive, caused by a Marqise Lee fumble, it looked like a long day was a head for the USC defense that was annihilated the preceding two weeks. Instead of allowing another 600 yards, the Sun Devils gained just 250, having their pass and run game shut down. Linebacker Lamar Dawson was all over the field after his embarrassing performance against Oregon last week, a welcome addition to the front seven. Though the hype (after the requisite amount of prep) of Lee playing defense came to fruition via one appearance and no play – ASU had a delay of game – the defense quietly did its job. Good job, Monte Kiffin. The unit even forced four turnovers! Speaking of which…

So THAT’s what a turnover-free game lo—oh, wait.

It’s an epidemic. USC just can’t help itself. Five. More. Turnovers. Three Barkley picks. Curtis McNeal and Lee fumbles. Barkley was not on point today, overthrowing more guys than in recent memory. Also, ya know, completing three passes to guys in white jerseys. Even in a one-sided affair, and a -1 turnover margin, coughing the ball up more than twice will typically place teams in holes, particularly against good teams like Oregon and UCLA. Must be remedied if Roses are still in USC’s dreams.

So THAT’s what throwing it deep looks like!

Understatement alert: Lane Kiffin’s play calling has been suspect. Like, that screen to Lee that everybody saw coming including ASU’s defenders? Telegraphed that in. Mix it up, man. But, sure enough, when Lee was sent and targeted deep, the first resulted in a catch-and-run for six, the other six inches from another Lee score. In addition to tossing it deep, can we applaud Moody McNeal for today’s monstrous performance? After he was marginalized by Silas Redd’s arrival, the redshirt senior had 31 carries for 163 yards and a pair of scores as well as a catch-and-run for 22 and another touchdown. He and Lee – who had 227 total yards – were the forces in USC’s offensive assault while Robert "I’m on a milk carton" Woods had just two grabs for -3 yards. Help the man out. #FreeRobertWoods

Anyway… A rough first half followed by a much stronger second half. The game next week has yet to have a time announced. Let’s hope it’s a 5 p.m. primetime showing.

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