1. The Arizona State Sun Devils are replacing the entire starting corps on the defensive side of the football. Last season, ASU got great pressure up the middle on Cody Kessler, who will propel the pass rush this time around?
We're still not entirely sure. No one on the team has more than one sack this year, and Demarious Randall leads the squad with 4.0 tackles-for-loss. Pass rush hasn't been the team's strong suit, as Brett Hundley ran wild last week for UCLA.
2. Jaelen Strong is a proven commodity that caught almost everything that came his way against the Trojans last year? Will the Sun Devils look to keep him equally involved and how impactful has he been to the offense thus far this season?
The passing attack has been Jaelen Strong and everybody else, so yes, I expect Strong to get the majority of the looks. He makes everyone around him better. Taylor Kelly developed a great rapport with him, but even he and Mike Bercovici had a solid connection last week. Without Strong, I shudder to think where the passing game would be.
3. Do you feel the ASU rushing attack can pound the rock? How will D.J. Foster and company look to expose the holes in the Trojans' rushing defense?
We all knew D.J. Foster would be good this year, but I think he's surpassed a lot of expectations. When the word "Heisman" gets whispered around your name, you must be doing something right. But it's not just him– freshman Kalen Ballage has been a beast when given the chance, and has been a great goal-line option for the Sun Devils.
4. How has Todd Graham continued to keep the discipline at such a high level in the penalty department, even while rotating in a slew of bodies?
It's been his calling card, not allowing his team to get flagged, a nice change from the Dennis Erickson days. Graham hates giving away yards, and even though the team lost its cool a bit in the UCLA drubbing, I'd expect a focused, disciplined team on Saturday.
5. Who is one player on the offensive and defensive side of the ball that USC fans should know about that maybe doesn't get national attention?
I mentioned Kalen Ballage, and I'd have to go with him. He's a monster for a running back, standing 6-foot-3 and weighing 220 pounds. He's an intimidating presence, and growing behind Foster as a true freshman gives Sun Devil fans a reason to be excited when Foster leaves. Defensively, walk-on Jordan Simone has been everything the team could have hoped for and more. He exploded in the Colorado game, and has been Arizona State's most consistent defensive back.
6. Final score prediction?
If this game was in Tempe I'd feel more comfortable about it, but I have to lean USC in this one. I'll take the Trojans at 45-35, with Foster going for 175 yards from scrimmage.