at Arizona State 43 … USC 22
Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler
Arizona State QB Brock Osweiler
Posted Sep 24, 2011

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - USC at Arizona State

2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 4 - USC at Arizona State

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Sept. 24 at Arizona State 43 … USC 22
CFN Analysis: This was just the big performance Arizona State needed, and it might have been a program-saving moment, even though it was just the Pac-12 opener. After losing to Illinois, there was a there-ASU-goes-again thought with USC winning 11 straight in the series, and while Matt Barkley made it a game with the lead and the comeback in the third quarter, the Sun Devils didn't crumble. The defense turned up the pressure when things started falling apart, and the running of Cameron Marshall was too much for the Trojans at the end of some decent drives. USC made mistakes, ASU didn't, and the result was a great blowout that takes all the heat off of Dennis Erickson … for now. Oregon State shouldn't be a problem next week, but with four road games in five, including dates at Utah and Oregon, patience is a key. There will be losses, but this win should go a long way to winning the South.

How does USC handle the adversity? It managed to blow close games last year by screwing up, and with ten penalties, four turnovers, and too many mistakes to overcome, this was as disastrous a collapse as any last year. Marc Tyler might have run for 149 yards and a score, but he also gave away a key fumble when the Trojans were on the march. Matt Barkley threw for 227 yards, but he pushed too much and gave away a bad pick-six to all but end the game. The offense was awful on third downs, the defense buckled when pushed, and the team folded in the fourth. With no title to play for, beating Arizona next week is a must or Lane Kiffin could have an unfocused team on his hands the rest of the way.

(AP) TEMPE, Ariz. -- Cameron Marshall ran for 141 yards and three touchdowns, and Arizona State forced four turnovers to end an 11-game losing streak to Southern California with a 43-22 win over the No. 23 Trojans Saturday night.

Arizona State (3-1, 1-0 Pac-12) survived a first-quarter dust storm and a third-quarter flurry by USC to hand the Trojans (3-1, 1-1) their first loss after three home wins.

The Sun Devils got past the Trojans with a balanced offense, with Marshall powering through the Trojans while Brock Osweiler hit 25 of 32 passes for 223 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

Arizona State had no turnovers while its defense forced USC quarterback Matt Barkley into three, the final a 41-yard interception return by Shelly Lyons that put the Sun Devils up 21 midway through the fourth quarter.

USC (3-0) at Arizona State (2-1) Sept. 24, 10:15, ESPN

Here's The Deal … It's only the tail end of September, yet the Pac-12 South could hang in the balance in Tempe on Saturday night. Sort of. While USC and Arizona State are considered two of the premier teams in the division, the latter is eligible to play in the league title game, but the former is not. The Trojans remain on probation for one more year, but would love to play the spoiler's role throughout the fall. Troy is coming off its best game of the young season, blowing out Syracuse, 38-17. Head coach Lane Kiffin is hoping it was a turning point for a squad that was inconsistent in its first two wins over Minnesota and Utah.

The Sun Devils are looking to bounce back from a painful loss to Illinois in a game it led early in the fourth quarter. While it was bitter pill and a long flight home, the goal of playing for a Pac-12 championship remains unchanged. Breaking through against USC, which hasn't happened much lately, will keep Arizona State firmly on the national radar.

Why USC Might Win: The Arizona State secondary which began the year without injured all-star CB Omar Bolden is about to face one of its toughest challenges of the season. Trojans QB Matt Barkley has begun to play like the future first-round draft choice that many feel he'll be in 2012 or 2013. The hard-throwing junior has thrown just one pick and nine scoring strikes, including five a week ago. When Syracuse doubled-team stud receiver Robert Woods, Barkley threw touchdown passes to three different tight ends. The attack is also being aided by complimentary backs Marc Tyler, Curtis McNeal and Dillon Baxter. If the Sun Devils haven't addressed glaring issues along the O-line, USC will pounce on QB Brock Osweiler with linemen Nick Perry and DaJohn Harris, and linebackers Hayes Pullard and Chris Galippo.

Why Arizona State Might Win: A return home, where the Sun Devils have already beaten Missouri, is exactly what this program needs after getting shoved around by Illinois. Arizona State possesses the speed, both offensively and defensively, to match the Trojans. Osweiler is surrounded by quality skill positions players, such as RB Cameron Marshall and receivers Aaron Pflugrad and Gerell Robinson. The defense, led by linebackers Vontaze Burfict and Colin Parker, can cover big chunks of the field. One of the nastiest and most intimidating players at this level, Burfict is a former USC commit who changed course late in the recruiting process.

What To Watch Out For: In Champaign last Saturday, the Arizona State offensive line was absolutely abused for 60 minutes by Illinois. The Illini registered a dozen tackles for loss and six sacks, routinely flushing Osweiler from the pocket. If given an opportunity, USC will treat the Sun Devils quarterback with a similar degree of disrespect. The Trojans are every bit as athletic on defense as Illinois, which should keep the ASU staff up at night this week. If the Devils fail to block up to snuff, those hopes of a South Division crown will be fleeting.

What Will Happen: Those across the country who stick around after midnight for the conclusion of this game will be treated to a thriller. Both teams will go up and down the field in a showcase of the two strong-armed quarterbacks, Osweiler and Barkley. The outcome will be a jump ball throughout, hinging on which team does a better job of protecting the ball and converting in the red zone. While USC has yet to venture outside the Coliseum this month, Arizona State will be fueled by its home crowd. It'll provide the narrowest of margins in one of the best games of Week 4.

CFN Prediction: Arizona State 34 … USC 30
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