Sunday, September 25, 2011
Halftime: Arizona State 21, USC 9
By Ted Miller
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State's injury-riddled defense has been taking it to USC in the desert. Is an 11-game losing streak in the series about to end?
Turning point: USC looked poised to cut into a 14-6 Arizona State lead after a long punt return from Nickell Robey gave it a first down on the Sun Devils 13. But ASU linebacker Vontaze Burfict intercepted Matt Barkley -- Burfict's first career pick -- and returned it 36yards to the USC 48-yard line. The Sun Devils then drove for a touchdown.
Stat of the half: USC is 0-for-6 on third down. ASU is 4-for-7.
Best player in the half: Arizona State running back Cameron Marshall, who didn't practice all week with a sprained ankle, had 10 carries for 93 yards in the first half. Of course, most of it came on a 70-yard touchdown on his first carry of the game.
What Arizona State needs to do, what USC needs to do: Arizona State needs to continue doing what it's doing -- and show poise with a lead. That means protect the football, avoid stupid penalties but also don't tense up and get too conservative. As for the Trojans, it needs to come out angry at its flat first half. It needs to attack downfield in the passing game, and it needs to get a bit more creative in the red zone.