USC lost control of the Pac-12's South Division race with an ugly 56-24 home loss to Oregon while Utah rallied for a win at Washington last weekend. The Trojans, who now find themselves in a tie for second place with crosstown rival UCLA, will try to rebound on Saturday afternoon when they visit Arizona State.
Penalties, turnovers and a cluster of injuries at running back was USC's undoing against the Ducks as the Trojans blew an early 10-0 lead with four turnovers, including a 32-yard pick-six by Brady Breeze late in the second quarter that put Oregon ahead, 21-10, followed by a 100-yard kickoff return by Mykael Wright just before halftime that made it 28-17. USC, missing top three running backs Vavae Malepeai, Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp who were all recovering from various leg injuries, managed just 91 yards rushing while true freshman quarterback Kedon Slovis finished was intercepted three times and also had a key fumble in the red zone trying to avoid a sack. "I know every one of us in here feels bad right now, but the world doesn't care about our feelings or us feeling sorry for ourselves," Trojans coach Clay Helton said. "The world cares about you getting back up and doing your job. For 18-21-year-olds, that's hard, because they pour so much into it. ... But that's life. Sometimes life isn't fair." Arizona State is coming off its second bye of the season and will be trying to snap a two-game losing streak that featured losses at Utah (21-3) and UCLA (42-32).
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC. LINE: Arizona State -1.5
ABOUT USC (5-4, 4-2 Pac-12): The contest is a homecoming for Slovis who was playing at Desert Mountain High School in Scottsdale at this time last year where he was tutored by NFL Hall of Famer Kurt Warner. Slovis has connected of 165-of-241 attempts (68.5 percent) for 1,889 yards, 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions and could get some much-needed help in the backfield if Carr (47 carries, 266 yards, 2 TDs) returns this week from a hamstring injury to help out true freshman fourth-stringer Kenan Christon (37 carries, 258 yards, 2 TDs). Defensively, cornerback Chris Steele, defensive end Christian Rector and linebackers Abdul-Malik McClain and Palaie Gaoteote IV all returned from injuries against Oregon and defensive end Drake Jackson (ankle) and safety Talanoa Hufanga (shoulder) both returned to practice Tuesday after missing two games with injuries.
ABOUT ARIZONA STATE (5-3, 2-3): True freshman quarterback Jayden Daniels has completed 135-of-223 passes for 1,902 yards, 11 TDs and two interceptions while also rushing for 273 yards and three more scores. The Sun Devils, despite returning first team All-Pac-12 running back Eno Benjamin, have surprisingly struggled to run the ball as Benjamin and freshman backup A.J. Carter combined for just 49 yards on 15 rushes in the loss to UCLA and ASU ranks just 105th in FBS with an average of 129.1 rushing yards per contest. Linebacker Darien Butler (55 tackles) and corner Jack Jones, a transfer from USC who is second in the conference in passes defended (11), lead a Sun Devil defense that ranks third in the Pac-12 allowing 357.8 yards per game.
1. USC leads the series with Arizona State, 21-13, and has won three of the last four meetings, but the Sun Devils won last year's contest at the Coliseum, 38-35.
2. Trojan WR Michael Pittman Jr. has caught four or more passes in each of the last 14 games with a total of 80 receptions for 1,341 yards and 13 TDs over that span.
3. Arizona State has 11 fumble recoveries this season which is tied for third nationally.
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