No. 5 USC takes high-octane offense to Arizona State


No. 5 Southern California is well-rested and looking to stay unbeaten Saturday when it visits Arizona State for a Pac-12 contest in Tempe, Ariz.

The Trojans (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) are coming off a bye week. USC opened conference play on Sept. 9 with a 56-10 rout of Stanford, the Trojans’ third straight game with at least 56 points.

USC beat San Jose State on Aug. 26, 56-28, and Nevada on Sept. 2, 66-14. All three contests were at home.

“Good teams are going to win most of their games at home, but the big difference between good and elite is the elite find ways to win on the road,” Trojans coach Lincoln Riley said Monday.

USC went 7-0 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum a season ago — including a 42-25 defeat of Arizona State — but finished 4-3 away from it. Saturday’s trip to Tempe marks the Trojans’ first game away from L.A. since dropping back-to-back neutral-site games to Utah and Tulane in last year’s Pac-12 Championship and Cotton Bowl.

Reigning Heisman Trophy winner Caleb Williams is 55-of-70 passing for 878 yards with 12 touchdowns and no interceptions through the first three games. Williams is one of five Trojans with a rushing touchdown on the season, paced by Austin Jones with three.

Jones is also one of three USC running backs with at least 106 yards, joining team leader MarShawn Lloyd at 195 yards and Quinten Joyner with 113.

While USC boasts the nation’s highest-scoring offense to date at 59.3 points per game, Arizona State (1-2, 0-0) comes in with the lowest offensive output of any Power 5 team and the third-lowest in the FBS with 13.0 points per game. Only Arkansas State (11.3) and FBS newcomer Sam Houston (1.5) have struggled more to score.

The offensive woes have been in part due to a revolving door at quarterback. Freshman Jaden Rashada, who threw for two touchdowns in a 24-21 win over Southern Utah, is out 4-6 weeks with an unspecified injury.

Trenton Bourguet started last week’s 29-0 loss to Fresno State but exited early due to a foot injury, while backup Drew Pyne sustained a leg injury after throwing a pair of interceptions.

ESPN reported Friday that Rashada and Bourguet have been ruled out and Pyne, the Notre Dame transfer, will make his first start for the Sun Devils. Pyne completed 23 of 26 passes for 318 yards, three touchdowns and one interception in the Fighting Irish’s 38-27 loss at USC last November.

Arizona State begins its league slate with USC’s visit. The Sun Devils are at home for a fourth consecutive week, but the confines of Sun Devil Stadium have been less than friendly the past two outings.

Arizona State dropped a 27-15 decision to Oklahoma State — the Sun Devils’ future Big 12 counterpart — on Sept. 9, before last week’s shutout loss.

After the slow start, first-year Sun Devils coach Kenny Dillingham was asked Monday about being heavy underdogs against USC.

“It shouldn’t affect our players. Who cares?” he said. “Go play the game. Go to work this week, and play the football game to win the football game. It’s very simple. I think that’s always going to be our focus.”

–Field Level Media

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