The No. 5 USC Trojans traveled to Mountain America Stadium in Tempe on Saturday night to take on the Arizona State Sun Devils, with the Trojans grabbing a 42-28 victory. The win improves USC’s unbeaten record to 4-0, and 2-0 in conference play.
Though USC came away with the win, their performance left much to be desired. Arizona State hung with the more talented Trojans for most of the game, though they were down to their third-string quarterback and had other key injuries all over the field. The Trojans were 34.5-point favorites, and ended up winning by just 14.
The Trojans stumbled through most of the game, leading by just six points with eight minutes left in the fourth quarter, allowing Arizona State and their raucous crowd to dictate the pace of play. The high-powered USC offense, which leads the country in points per game (55.0), settled for field goals on two vital third quarter possessions to put the game away, giving ASU a late chance to win.
The player of the game on either side was Sun Devils junior running back Cameron Skattebo, who was all over the field for Arizona State. The Sacramento State transfer had 111 rushing yards, 79 receiving yards, 42 passing yards, and punted once for 53 yards, not to mention two huge touchdowns. On a fourth-and-seven late in the game, Skattebo took a screen pass and broke two open-field tackles on the way to an incredible 52-yard touchdown to cut the Trojan lead to six.
In the end, it was surprisingly the Trojans’ defense (which has taken much scrutiny since Riley’s arrival in LA) that provided the spark they needed to put this game away. All-American safety Calen Bullock grabbed his eighth career interception on a crucial third-quarter Sun Devil drive, and edge rusher Romello Height recovered a clutch fumble on a strip sack later in the game.
Superstar quarterback Caleb Williams was stellar as usual, doing just enough to carry his Trojans to victory. Williams threw for 322 yards and 3 touchdowns, and ran for two as well. He used his patented magic to throw two late touchdown passes, one to Brendan Rice and one to Tahj Washington, to put the game away for good and keep the Trojans undefeated.
Caleb Williams has not been challenged yet, as his season stats currently sit at 74% completion percentage, 1,200 passing yards, 15 touchdowns, and 0 interceptions, with 3 rushing touchdowns as well. USC’s QB1 remains the favorite on most sportsbooks to win his second straight Heisman trophy, despite the likes of Washington’s Michael Penix Jr, Texas’ Quinn Ewers, and Florida State’s Jordan Travis closing in on his quest for the title.
Despite the win, the Trojans’ lackluster performance drops them to #8 in the AP poll, giving them something to prove to the country next week as they travel to Boulder to face Deion Sanders’ Colorado Buffaloes. The Buffs will also look to right the ship after being dominated 42-6 by the Oregon Ducks this weekend. The two teams will meet at 12pm ET this Saturday in one of the most highly anticipated matchups of this young college football season.