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Early Preview: #21 USC @ Arizona State

The Trojans head into a must-win game as ASU battles for PAC-12 South supremacy

NCAA Football: Southern California at Notre Dame Matt Cashore-USA TODAY Sports

If the USC Trojans weren’t in must-win territory yet, that is where they find themselves after an abysmal showing against Notre Dame last week. The winner of this week’s matchup against the Arizona State Sun Devils will almost certainly be in the driver’s seat in the PAC-12 South.

Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage combined for 168 yards rushing and the Arizona State defense forced four turnovers to lead the Sun Devils to a 30-10 win over Utah, a win in which they held the Utes to only 10 points. Against Washington, they held the Huskies to a total of seven points and sacked quarterback Jake Browning five times. USC, obviously, has been struggling as of late. Sam Darnold hasn’t been his usual self and, quite frankly, that will not fly against this up-and-coming ASU unit. This game could prove to be more difficult than originally anticipated at the beginning of the season.

If the Trojans can find some sort of consistency on offense then they stand a chance of winning this matchup. On the season, USC has given up 15 sacks on the year and have a turnover margin of -3 (that, my friends, is not super great).

Not many people expected the Sun Devils to be in the position that they’re in at this point in the season; similarly, not many folks expected the Trojans to be where they’re at now.

This will be just the beginning of a series of tests for USC down the stretch - after this game against ASU, USC will face two teams in its final three games who find themselves, as of right now, within one game of first place in the division (those teams being the Arizona Wildcats and the UCLA Bruins).

Kickoff for this game is at 7:45pm (PT) on ESPN.

Fight on!