Well here we are. After a week which saw all time "records" being set on defense against Oregon, and more distraction and media hand-wringing over Deflategate, it's time for USC and ASU to rumble on the field to see who can do a better job of steering into the skid and staying in the mix for the PAC12 south lead.
Things to watch for with USC this week:
- Can the team replicate last week's discipline in avoiding penalties?
- Will the defense have more luck dealing with another spread-a-riffic offense?
- Can the offense replicate the fireworks from last week?
- Will Marqise Lee play on defense as well as offense?
The match up on Stats Milk suggests that the clear advantage for SC is in the passing game, but that the teams are not that far apart otherwise.
Rich Gray of Bold Saguaros, on the other hand, sounds downright pessimistic about Arizona State's chances:
I pegged this team to win 4 games at the start of the season for a lot of the reasons were are seeing right now. The defense can't tackle, only Will Sutton (who has surprised many with his play) can generate a pass rush, the secondary can't cover talented receivers and ASU doesn't have any playmakers at wide receiver.
Yikes. Our own Trevor Wong is a little more impressed with Arizona State's defense:
The Sun Devils rank second in the nation with 38 sacks and first with 84 tackles for loss (TFL). Leading Arizona State's defensive unit up front is Will Sutton, who has recorded nine and 15.5, respectively. Their linebacking core (Brandon McGee, Chris Young, Carl Bradford) is something to watch for, too, as the three have combined for 15 sacks and 32.5 TFL.
If the offense doesn't get rattled and the defense makes an occasional stop, there's no reason that SC can't win this game.
Unfortunately, since this game is being broadcast on the PAC12 network, I won't be watching it - driving to Virginia to sit in a bar for a game that has a high chance of face palm seems like a poor use of my time, and that's coming from someone who spent 46 hours in LA last weekend to see the Oregon game.
This is the open thread - Fight on! Beat the Sun Devils!