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Saturday, October 11, 2008
USC 21, ASU 0: First-half reflections

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

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?