NCF Nation: Trojans-Devils-092411

Video: Arizona State's Colin Parker

September, 25, 2011

Ted Miller interviews Arizona State linebacker Colin Parker following the Sun Devils' 43-22 win over USC.

Video: Arizona State's Bo Moos

September, 25, 2011

Ted Miller interviews Arizona State defensive tackle Bo Moos following the Sun Devils' 43-22 win over USC.

These Sun Devils feel different

September, 25, 2011

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Omar Bolden couldn't stop grabbing and hugging Vontaze Burfict as they walked into the locker room. Bolden, Arizona State's injured, charismatic captain, was bouncing around, jumping for joy. Burfict? The Sun Devils wound-tight superstar alternated between a grin and a grimace as he limped off the field, lugging along Bolden under a scoreboard that said the Sun Devils had beaten USC 43-22, the first time they'd been on top of the Trojans in 11 previous meetings.

This Sun Devils team feels different.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler walked into his postgame news conference with 1,500 pounds of escort -- his entire starting offensive line.

Why? "I thought the media was pretty harsh on these guys last week," Osweiler said.

Last week, the Sun Devils lost at Illinois, despite outplaying the Illini. Osweiler had three turnovers. The offensive line gave up six sacks. There were eight penalties for 91 yards. The loss knocked the Sun Devils out of the national rankings and cost them defensive end Junior Onyeali, who suffered a knee injury. It was the sort of loss that could linger in a locker room, not to mention inspire talk of "same old Sun Devils" from a skeptical fanbase.

[+] EnlargeArizona State's Cameron Marshall
Norm Hall/Getty ImagesArizona State's Cameron Marshall rushed for 141 yards and three touchdowns, including a 70-yard run to open the scoring.
This Sun Devils team was different. It yielded just one sack. It committed no turnovers -- versus four from USC. It had just six penalties, one of which was on coach Dennis Erickson for celebrating.

And now, at 3-1 overall and 1-0 in the Pac-12, these Sun Devils have beaten two ranked teams. They might return to the national rankings. And this win was particularly sweet.

"Eleven years is a long time not to beat somebody," Erickson said.

The game turned in the third quarter, just as USC seemed to be taking control. The Trojans, who trailed 21-9 at the break, took a 22-21 lead with touchdown drives of 80 and 76 yards. They were running and throwing over the Sun Devils, who seemed to be wearing down.

"The thing we kept saying was, '11 years.' That was a huge thing that kept us motivated all week," defensive tackle Bo Moos said.

Said Osweiler, "We don't really have a panic button."

ASU would score the final 22 points.

The Sun Devils immediately answered the Trojans with a 76-yard TD drive. Arizona State then let USC throw up on itself. The Trojans fumbled on the ASU 28-yard line. On their next possession, USC quarterback Matt Barkley fumbled after a sack from Greg Smith, Onyeali's replacement, on the ASU 18. After another Sun Devils touchdown drive, Barkley then threw a 41-yard pick-six to Shelly Lyons.

In the second quarter, Barkley threw one interception to Burfict on the Sun Devils' 12. Burfict returned the interception 36 yards. He was tackled by Barkley, who had said Burfict was a dirty player this week.

Burfict ran to Barkley. And helped him up.

That was different.

"They didn't make many mistakes, didn't give us many chances," USC coach Lane Kiffin said.

Injuries? Running back Cameron Marshall sat out practices with a sprained ankle, but he rushed for 141 yards on 25 carries with three TDs. Mistakes? Osweiler bounced back from his performance at Illinois with two touchdowns and no interceptions, completing 25 of 32 passes for 223 yards and also ran for 18 yards.

There's a lot of season left, but beating USC, which slipped Utah two weeks ago, puts the Sun Devils in good position in the South Division. An Oct. 8 trip to Utah appears critical.

But looking ahead would be so 2008-2010 Sun Devils. That can't happen. The first priority, however, is enjoying this one.

Said Erickson, "It doesn't get much better than that."

Video: Arizona State-USC wrap

September, 25, 2011

Ted Miller wraps up the action from Tempe, Ariz., where Arizona State defeated USC, 43-22.

Video: Can USC bounce back?

September, 25, 2011

Joe Tessitore and Rod Gilmore break down USC’s loss to Arizona State.

Final: Arizona State 43, USC 22

September, 25, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State is beaten-up but winning nonetheless.

Despite numerous injuries to key players, the Sun Devils turned in a strong effort on both sides of the ball in an 43-22 win over USC.

The win ended an 11-game USC winning streak in the series.

The Sun Devils improved to 3-1 and 1-0 in Pac-12 play. USC falls to 3-1 and 1-1 in the conference.

Much more later ...

ASU asserts itself, now can it hold on?

September, 25, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State drove 82 yards to go up 36-22 over USC, and then the Sun Devils defense made a play that might have ended this one.

Shelly Lyons got a 41-yard pick-six on Matt Barkley to make the score 43-22 with 6:37 left.

Will folks in Tempe start to believe? This injury-riddled team just ended USC's 11-game winning streak in the series. It also could climb back into the national rankings. And it just became the favorite in the Pac-12 South Division.

Quarterback Brock Osweiler's numbers aren't huge, but he and running back Cameron Marshall have taken this team on their shoulders. They also got an assist from Greg Smith, who replaced injured defensive end Junior Onyeali. Smith made two big plays to stop a USC drive deep in Sun Devils territory.

Third quarter: ASU 28, USC 22

September, 25, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- We enter the fourth quarter and it's anybody's game.

Both quarterbacks have picked up their games in the second half, so it's not unreasonable to think the quarterback that wins the fourth will win the game.

Both defenses look tired. Both offenses are surging.

USC begins the fourth on its 37-yard line, looking to take back the lead.

Here's a guess there might be more than one lead change in this final frame.

Last possession wins?

ASU counterpunches

September, 25, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Are we headed for a wild one?

Arizona State answered USC's fast start to the third with an impressive 76-yard TD drive to go back up 28-22.

Then USC's Robert Woods returned the ensuing kickoff 47 yards into Sun Devils territory.

But just as you thought the Trojans would return fire, Marc Tyler fumbled on the Sun Devils' 25.

Back and forth, back and forth... where will it stop?

USC jumps ahead

September, 25, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- USC used halftime to completely transform from a flat, sloppy team to a cooly-efficient, and even dominant, one.

Using the pass to set up the run, the Trojans put together touchdown drives of 65 and 80 yards to jump ahead of Arizona State 22-21 -- a 2-point conversion attempt failed.

To steal a Doug Haller tweet: "USC had 142 total yards in first half. In their first two second-half drives, the Trojans have 145."

It's possible an injury-riddled ASU defense is wearing down.

Now, can the Sun Devils' offense answer?

Halftime: Arizona State 21, USC 9

September, 25, 2011
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.

Burfict gets revenge on Barkley

September, 24, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Vontaze Burfict: Perfect gentleman.

With USC on Arizona State's 12-yard line after a long punt return, Burfict stepped in front of a Matt Barkley pass and returned his first career interception 36 yards -- where he was tackled by Barkley, who called him dirty this week.

Burfict immediately ran at Barkley. And helped him up.

And then Arizona State drove 48 yards for at touchdown that put them up 21-6 with two minutes left in the half.

Burfict makes a good play. Then he makes a smart play. And his team surges.

Arizona State jumps ahead 14-3

September, 24, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Arizona State is now up 14-3. Will Lane Kiffin turn off the mute button on the USC offense?

The Trojans have played the early going conservatively. But they might need to start opening the playbook and let Matt Barkley make some plays.

As for Arizona State: How about some help from good officiating for once? That overturned fumble from Cameron Marshall inside the USC 5-yard line was a huge shift in terms of momentum and the scoreboard.

First quarter: ASU 7, USC 3

September, 24, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- A dust storm just hit Sun Devil Stadium -- technical term "haboob" -- and that's not the only local pleasure, as Arizona State is up 7-3 against a flat USC.

The Sun Devils haven't gotten much going on offense since Cameron Marshall went 70 yards for a TD, but USC's offense has been pretty flat. If not for an offsides from Vontaze Burfict on a missed 46-yard field goal, which gave USC a do-over from 41-yards, the Trojans wouldn't be on the board.

It's clear USC wants to establish the run, perhaps to tire a injury-riddled Sun Devils defense. Still, getting 18 yards on nine carries doesn't seem like a great strategy, especially with two runs on third-and-long.

Injured Marshall not so injured

September, 24, 2011
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cameron Marshall wasn't supposed to play for Arizona State.

Well, he just took his first carry -- after not starting -- 70 yards for a touchdown.

Arizona State therefore leads 7-0 based on a player who has a badly sprained ankle.

One way to overcome injuries is to pretend they aren't there. I watched Marshall jogging in pregame; he didn't look good.

Playing possum, perhaps?