USC 21, ASU 0: First-half reflections

Posted by ESPN.com's Ted Miller

It doesn't feel like USC played all that well or Arizona State all that badly, but the Trojans are up big, 21-0, at the break.

Obvious bottom line: You can't make mistakes and hang with USC.

Critical moment of the half: A play after the Sun Devils got lucky, winning a wild scramble and getting a first down following a Dimitri Nance fumble, Rudy Carpenter felt heat from a blitz and tried to use an outside route for his hot read. But he floated the ball -- perhaps his velocity was hurt by his bum ankle -- and Kevin Thomas broke on the ball and got a 46-yard pick-six.

Of course, the Trojans wasted the Sun Devils fumbled shotgun snap, failing to score after getting a first down on the ASU 15. But still those were plays when the Sun Devils should have been trying to chip into a 21-zip lead, not making a defensive stand.

The margin for error against USC is small, and losing the turnover battle makes it microscopic.

The biggest surprise is Arizona State is running fairly well: Nance has 49 yards on 11 carries. But how much can a team that trails USC by 21 at half continue to run the ball?