The big question coming into this game was the morale of USC. They were blown out at home against No. 7 Oregon and lost control of the Pac-12 South with the loss. Safe to say that was quickly thrown out the window with the Trojans showing an offensive display through the air in the first quarter. USC scored 28 points on their first 4 drives of the game. Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis quickly had 297 yards and 4 touchdowns in just one quarter of play and only throwing 17 passes. USC also out gained the Sun Devils 315-1 displaying a dominant performance. Or so many thought.
The USC offense went stagnant after having a huge first quarter. That opened the door for Arizona State to strike and get back into the game. The Sun Devils were without starting quarterback Jayden Daniels, who was out due to a knee injury he suffered against UCLA two weeks ago. Freshman Joey Yellen stepped in to start for Arizona State and managed to help jump start their struggling offense with a 62 yard pass to Frank Darby. From there USC chipped away at USC’s lead in the late second and early third quarter while the Trojans offense struggled to regain momentum.
Part of those struggles were attested to two key Trojans leaving the game with injuries. Kedon Slovis briefly left after suffering a lower leg injury that turned out to be cramps while center Bret Neilon left the game with a leg injury. Matt Fink replaced Slovis for a few plays while back up center Justin Dedich took over for the remainder of the game. The run game was also a struggle with Kenan Christon. The freshman rushed for 62 yards on 20 carries. As a team the Trojans only averaged 2.6 yards per carry.
The Sun Devils cut the lead down to 31-26 mid way in the fourth quarter and forced the Trojans offense to punt twice to keep them in the game. Yellen would attempt to lead ASU down the field for a potential game winning drive, however that would be put to rest thanks to a Christian Rector interception after tipping the ball to himself to secure the win.
Slovis finished the game with 432 yards, 4 touchdowns, and 1 interception while USC wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown had 207 all purpose yards on 14 touches and a 95 yard touchdown reception. The Trojans were also a +1 in the turnover margin and won the battle 3-2 for the second time this season.
The win now moves USC into bowl eligibility with a 6-4 record. Something that wasn't accomplished last season. Next week USC travels to the Bay Area for a Pac-12 after dark showdown with Cal. Despite the win victory and reaching bowl eligibility status, the talk of Clay Helton’s future continues on with new USC athletic director Mike Bohn closely examining him moving forward. The win may keep USC alive in the Pac-12 south race, but the performance isn’t enough to keep Helton safe moving forward.