USC vs. Arizona State
October 1, 2016 at 5:45pm
Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, Los Angeles, CA: 71,214 (93,607)
Total Time: 3 hours 20 minutes
For yet another game, USC gave up in the fourth quarter. Only this time it was because of a 35-point lead rather than a 3+ score deficit. The game ended before the torch was lit—the clock was about the only thing protesting that. Cheers and applause erupted as Max Browne entered the game. It was a testament to the respect earned by the captain and former starter.
The win was sorely needed. Pretty much everything from this point is a must win, so this was vital. There were still a few criticisms, but some of the naysayers are taking it too far. If Helton was nearly bad as people were making him out to be, beating anybody—even a supposedly “crappy” ASU team—would still be significant. These people are just trying to protect their pride after predicting a blowout going the other way. Don’t let it get in the way of celebrating a win. At least let the opponents do the trash talking.
Worry not, because I got you covered with the opponent trashtalking, man. When your friendly neighborhood CommBro was undercover at the local McDonald’s (because I had to eat somewhere with Cardinal and Gold colors preceding the game), I witnessed an ASU fan heckle a USC fan. The victim was wearing a Nike shirt that said “USC Never Stops.”
The genius ASU fan’s idea? “USC NEVER STOPS BEING 1 AND 3” before quickly realizing he painted himself into a corner. He still attempted to recover, though, by tacking on “UNTIL THEY ARE 1 AND 4.” Good try, homie.
By the way, ASU belongs to an undemanding fraternity of 80ish teams that spent a flatline ZERO weeks at #1 in the AP poll. No one ever even wanted to pretend they are a contender.
In all seriousness though, Arizona State is one of the teams closest to grabbing a winning record against USC. The overall record is 20*-12-0 *(including the vacated win, of course). It would still take them nine straight wins in order to overtake USC, but that’s one of the best the Pac’s got. That would be huge if it happen since USC could no longer claim they have a winning record over the entire Pac-12 Conference. The closest team is Utah (yikes!). USC is 10-4-0 against the Utes.
No matter though, the Trojans have staved off the Sun Devils for another season. The winning ways started out early. Olympic sprinter, Allyson Felix, led the team out of the tunnel (earning the distinction of being the first woman to lead the Trojans onto the football field). I’m not sure how she managed to run while carrying the weight of her six gold medals (no, she didn’t actually have them on her person), but it shows that she knows a thing or two about winning.
The announced 71,214 barely managed to file in (again, because of the long security lines), but gave the game a nice atmosphere. Quite a good turnout despite doom and gloom over a 1-3 start.
I have to qualify a statement I made earlier; there was a slight hiccup with the winning beginning. Clay Helton started out the game in a dubious manner. Going for it on 4th down with a sputtering run game on their own side of the 50-yard line on an uninspired play was straight up wrong. Nobody in the entire stadium believed in that call and unsurprisingly, it got blown up. Sure seemed like Helton wanted to appease a crowd rather than make a good decision. The situation was completely different from the 4th down against Utah and I genuinely believed that Helton wanted use it as a “see, I told you so” kind of moment. It gave us a strange first quarter that featured no punts, which usually is typical of shootouts. The 7-6 first quarter score was decidedly not a shootout.
Luckily, Jonathan Lockett covered well and made an athletic interception to give people a short memory. Lockett exhibited a vast improvement since the last time he got significant playing time. As a true freshman that entered the corner rotation, he failed to impress. He made many critical errors. He had a breakout game against ASU, showing that he really turned the corner. Instead of critical errors, he made critical plays ande made his presence felt as early as the second series.
Lockett’s pick set the offense up at the 5-yard line. Sam Darnold threw some legit passes to JuJu Smith-Schuster until Justin Davis decided he was tired of running for a loss. Davis drove it 49 yards to set up Darnold’s eventual touchdown pass to JuJu. The Trojans would never surrender the lead again.
In order to prevent back-to-back colossal posts, I’m going into summary mode:
Rest of the Positives (that I remember)
- Started the first half strong: only 2 penalties for 10 yards
- Boermeester making two 40+ yard field goals
- Chuma at right tackle
- Not allowing ASU to score for two and a half quarters
- Darnold’s 4 total touchdowns, 0 interceptions and ~70% completion percentage
- Deontay Burnett’s hard work paying off in tangible stats
- Six tackles for losses
- Back ups getting playing time so they can develop
- CommBro trying to learn how to keep things concise with bullet points
- Referees gifted calls to USC…for once. I felt kind of dirty
- The 2-4-5 nicket formation matches up better with ASU than with Stanford or Alabama
- Weaker pass rush might work on this team, but might not against others
- USC took advantage of a slow ASU secondary
- Dependent on explosive plays (20+ yard plays) to spark scoring drives
The above are the kind of things that don’t quite fit into the negatives. In some of these cases, it was difficult to make too much of a judgment. Beating ASU in this fashion doesn’t allow for a proper measure.
Straight Up Problems (Negatives)
- A 4th down call so bad I have to mention it twice
- Mismanagement of timeouts continue to be a problem
- Less than 11 out on the field for special teams again…
- Boermeester missing two field goals
- Helton developed more as a coach, but is still trying to learn too much on the job
USC is USC and a bounce back was bound to happen evetually. What is this team going to do going foward?
At this point, you might be wondering what the heck the title means. Here’s why:
JuJu Smith-Schuster: 123 yards receiving
Justin Davis: 123 yards rushing
Yeah, sometimes the titles are that shallow. At least it’s not clickbait.
Misleading Stat of the Week: Arizona State celebrates America more than USC. See for yourself:
I guess it just depends on what angle you’re looking from.