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Conquest Chronicles Staff Predictions: #21 USC Trojans vs. Arizona State Sun Devils

We take a look at a few different outcomes for the Trojans in a critical Pac-12 South matchup

NCAA Football: Arizona State at Southern California Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Coming off their worst loss in over a year—the USC Trojans look to stabilize their season in a big Pac-12 South match up against the Arizona State Sun Devils. A few of us here at Conquest Chronicles have a few different views on how USC will perform in their pivotal rebound game.

Richard: The abundance of injuries continues to thwart Trojan progress
USC has been banged up all season—but now in addition to three starting offensive linemen, the Trojans will be without sack-leader Christian Rector and Iman Marshall. Both players are focal points on the Trojan defense and without them, this game gets out of hand fast. I expect standout Sun Devil wide receiver N’Keal Harry to have a big game, as his size and athleticism will give sophomore cornerback Jack Jones all he can handle. Without Rector there will be less pressure on ASU QB Manny Wilkins and more time in the pocket. Darnold comes close once again but can’t steer the ship as I see the Sun Devils taking this at a controlled-pace 31-21 over the Trojans.

Matthew: The response will define the Trojans season

Like Richard said, USC has been banged up all season and not having a bye week hasn’t helped at all. This week they get an Arizona State team who’s really playing some good football against Utah and Washington. USC will be without some key players this week which includes defensive tackle and team leader in sacks Christian Rector. With injuries plus the unknown about the Trojans offense, this could spell disaster. USC will have to find a way to get pressure on the Sun Devils, if not then it will be a long night for the Trojans. These are also the type of games where Arizona State tends to win. However USC knows that they have to win these remaining games and will come out ready to play as well. USC wins a very close game and stay alive for another week.

USC- 35 Arizona State - 31

Nick: USC seems likely on the verge of total collapse or an impressive run to the Pac-12 Championship

I normally hate the overreaction to the game(s) immediately prior. Every week really is a season in college football but all of the momentum seems to be with the Sun Devils coming into the game. ASU is also at home where USC has not been great. Many of the things ASU does well are well suited to capitalize on USC’s glaring weaknesses. ASU has found a consistent run game right as the USC run defense has imploded under the weight of injuries. The ASU defense has turned into takeaway machine whereas USC has given the ball away more than almost every other team in the country. ASU has struggled in pass protection while the Pac-12 sack leader just went down with a hand injury. ASU is likely to have a better coached and better prepared team on the field as well as a better game plan.

The Trojans have plenty of grit and the ability to do great things but another collapse tonight could send the rest of the season into a tailspin. An early mistake or two and this thing could get derailed pretty early. USC has a ton of hurdles to overcome to win tonight on the road. That is a tall order for a team that seems either unwilling or unable to improve week to week or to correct mistakes. The Trojans will need to put up a ton of fight to pull off a win against ASU and even then I’m not sure it will be enough with ASU winning 30-21.