USC looked like it was going to steamroll the Sun Devils after a 28 point first quarter. Kedon Slovis tossed four touchdowns while the Trojans lept out to an early 28-7 lead. After that, however, USC hit a wall. Only able to muster a field goal the rest of the game, they escaped Arizona State’s comeback with a 31-26 victory.
Watching an offense throttle down so dramatically like that is something I cannot recall being a witness to. Slovis appeared to be well on his way to breaking Matt Barkley‘s single-game passing record but the game ended with Slovis falling 62 yards short. There was plenty of chatter that Sun Devils head coach Herm Edwards should shoulder most of the blame for not getting the win for State. The fact that there was even a chance for a Trojan loss after the opening quarter is inexcusable.
This should have been a blowout and instead it was an ugly five point win. Slovis had to leave the game due to cramping but returned later. The defense allowed a backup quarterback from Mission Viejo High School to throw four touchdown passes while the offense wasn’t able to put the pedal down and cement the game. Just a bad taste after such a great start. We all should be thrilled that USC is now bowl eligible, but after that display? It feels wrong.
New Athletic Director, Mike Bohn, wanted this team to finish strong, and I guess the Trojans finished against the Sun Devils, but strong would be an overstatment. The team did, however, start extremely strong.
The offense looked as if it could not be stopped. Perhaps it was Kedon Slovis‘ homecoming, he went to high school just 20 miles north of Tempe in Scottsdale. Perhaps the team was extra motivated after the blowout loss that they suffered at home against Oregon. Or perhaps Clay Helton wanted to get the team going early knowing that his seat is even hotter with the official hiring of the new AD. Whatever the case, SC came out guns blazing.
The Trojans jumped out to a 28-7 lead in the first quarter and Slovis looked like a man possessed. His 4th touchdown pass to Amon-Ra St. Brown may have been one of the prettiest touchdown passes I have seen this season. From their own five-yard line, Slovis dropped back and heaved an absolutely perfect pass 50-yards through the air, splitting the safety and corner, en route to a 95-yard touchdown. Truly a thing of beauty.
But then the offense came back down to earth and Arizona State came storming back and made things really interesting. It came down to the captain of the defense, Christian Rector, intercepting Joey Yellen‘s pass to end the game and seal the victory.
So what did the win tell me? Kind of what this team has told me all year. Very hard to predict, a lot of talent, and questionable coaching.
Clay Helton has said all of the right things during this situation but when you score 28 points in the first quarter and 3 the entire rest of the game, it’s not a great confidence builder for a coach trying to prove that he should remain the coach of the future.
I was impressed and happy with the win, but the lapses throughout the game kind of optimize how the season has gone so far and why I think a change needs to be made in the offseason, or even sooner. This team has too much talent for mediocrity to continue.
Nonetheless, the Trojans are Bowl eligible, something they did not accomplish last season, so let’s celebrate that little victory for now and assess the rest as the season continues.