Thursday, November 8, 2012
Five storylines: USC-Arizona St.
By Garry Paskwietz
Here are five storylines as USC (6-3, 4-3 Pac-12) hosts Arizona State (5-4, 3-3 Pac-12) at the Coliseum on Saturday.
1. USC defense vs. another spread offense: The last two weeks have not been kind to the Trojans when it comes to facing spread offenses. Arizona and Oregon combined for more than 1,300 yards, and now the Sun Devils come to town with a spread offense that is No. 2 in scoring in the Pac-12 (37 points per game), behind only Oregon.
Robert Woods and the rest of the USC passing attack will need to put up big numbers against Arizona State.
2. Defensive pressure: Both teams have seen success with getting pressure on the quarterback. Will Sutton (conference-leading 9.5 sacks) headlines an ASU defense that is No. 2 in the nation in both sacks and tackles for loss. USC is the No. 7 defense nationally in terms of sacks with 30, including three last week against the Ducks.
3. USC passing attack vs ASU pass defense: The Trojans can put up big numbers in the passing game at any time with Matt Barkley throwing to Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. The Sun Devils are ranked No. 7 nationally in pass defense, but they are coming off a game in which two Oregon State receivers gained more than 100 yards apiece in the Beavers' victory.
4. ASU TE Chris Coyle vs. USC OLB Dion Bailey: Coyle has become a dependable option in the Sun Devils' passing attack and currently ranks No. 2 on the team in receptions with 43 (No. 2 nationally among tight ends). Bailey leads the Trojans in interceptions with four and is an athletic pass defender.
5. One team up, one team down: The Trojans are on a two-game losing streak, while the Sun Devils has lost three in a row. One of these teams is going to leave the stadium on Saturday with renewed hopes for a strong finish while the other is going to be stumbling toward the end of the season in the wrong direction.