USC Football Begins October Play By Hosting Arizona State

    Adoree' Jackson
    Sept. 25, 2016

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    Arizona State14
    September 26, 2015
    Tempe, Ariz.
    Kessler throws 5 TDs, No. 19 Trojans roll past Sun Devils
    Cody Kessler threw for 375 yards and five touchdowns and No. 19 Southern California took advantage of Arizona State's mistakes to roll past the Sun Devils 42-14 on Saturday night. USC (3-1, 1-1 Pac-12) scored touchdowns after all four Arizona State turnovers in the first half and led 35-0 at the break. Arizona State (2-2, 0-1) had the ball first-and-goal at the 1 early in the second quarter when quarterback Mike Bercovici fumbled trying to hand off the ball. Chris Hawkins scooped it up and ran 94 yards for the third of the four second-quarter touchdowns for the Trojans, who lost their conference opener at home to Stanford last week.

    After playing 3 of its first 4 games away from home (and against ranked teams), USC begins October play with a 2-game homestand, with undefeated Arizona State first up this week. USC will be looking to rebound from its last-second loss on Friday at No. 24 Utah, giving the Trojans their slowest start since 2001. All 3 of Troy’s losses in 2016 have been to AP Top 25 teams. USC is playing the nation’s toughest schedule, but 4 of its next 5 games will be at home. It will be USC’s 600th game in the historic Coliseum, Troy’s home since 1923. The Trojans are sharing the Coliseum for the next 3 years with a former roommate, the Los Angeles Rams. Twenty years ago, USC played its first overtime game, ironically against ASU. Coach Clay Helton’s USC team has shown weekly improvement despite its record, with a trio of early turnovers and the inability to make some fourth quarter stops the difference last week at Utah. The Trojan offense, sparked by newly-installed QB Sam Darnold (70% completions for 253 yards), had its best output of the year at Utah (466 total yards), as TB Justin Davis had a 100-yard rushing outing and WR JuJu Smith-Schuster caught 8 passes. ILB Cameron Smith remains the Pac-12’s tackle leader (don’t be surprised if he tackles ASU WR Cameron Smith on Saturday) and CB-WR-RET Adoree’ Jackson, who had a 100-yard scoring kick return at Utah (he also has a punt return TD this fall), could see some more snaps on offense. After its wild home win last weekend over California, head coach Todd Graham’s Arizona State team is off to its first 4-0 start since 2007. The Sun Devils have a potent offense (Top 25 nationally in scoring offense, total offense and rushing offense). Dual threat QB Manny Wilkins ranks 12th nationally in completion percentage and 18th in total offense. There are a pair of dangerous rushers in RBs Demario Richard and Kalen Ballage, who scored an FBS record-tying 8 TDs in the Texas Tech game and is second nationally in rushing touchdowns and third in scoring. WR Tim White, whose father (Timmy) and uncle (Lonnie) played at USC, is 23rd in the nation in punt returns, and he is joined in the receiving corps by standout freshman WR N’Keal Harry. Arizona State’s defense, which is 16th nationally in rushing defense but 128th (last) in passing defense, features FS Armand Perry, LB DJ Calhoun and CBs De’Chavon Hayes and Kareem Orr. PK Zane Gonzalez is third nationally in field goals and eighth in scoring. The game will be shown live nationally on FOX. USC’s Rio Olympians will be saluted at halftime. The USC men’s water polo team hosts Pacific on Saturday.