Sun Devils Keep It Close, USC Pulls Away Late to Remain Undefeated

By: Keller Brown and Cedric Rutlin

After going more than six quarters without scoring any points, Arizona State and coach Kenny Dillingham finally broke through, scoring 28 points in a 42-28 defeat against USC. 

Dillingham clearly stated there are no moral victories, but that he did see improvement from his team compared to previous outings.

“We got better. The win and loss, put aside,” Dillingham said. “Look at our own game, did we improve? Yes, we improved, in some areas. Did we not improve in other areas? Yes, got to get better in those.”

The aggressive play calling was much more apparent this week than in recent weeks, with trick plays coming left and right, with some succeeding in big ways. More noticeable than others was using starting running back Cam Skattebo in the wildcat formation, as well as letting him throw a few times on plays.

The main tricky play highlight was a fake punt throw from Skattebo to receiver Elijhah Badger, which led to a long fourth down conversion deep into USC territory in the first half.

“I’m gonna be in trouble tomorrow… the throw on the fake punt was not supposed to happen,” Skattebo said. “I started yelling Badger’s name, and he looked over, I know he’s got my back if I put the ball in the air.”

Skattebo finished with 113 yards on the ground, and 79 yards receiving. The biggest highlight of the game for ASU was Skattebo’s 52-yard catch and run for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, breaking multiple tackles on his way to make it a one-score game.

The overall vibe from the team seemed to be much more in good spirits from previous weeks, which was felt by players and coaches.

“On the sidelines, it felt more of a family out there,” Skattebo said. “Tighter knit, a lot more energy. It was beautiful, with the fans still there. They believe in us.”

Once again down multiple quarterbacks, Dillingham went with Notre Dame transfer Drew Pyne to lead his offense Saturday. Pyne finished with 221 yards passing, however, Pyne was sacked eight times, highlighted by Romello Height for USC, who had two sacks of his own, and a fumble recovery.

Trojans’ quarterback Caleb Williams had a rough start to his night, but the reigning Heisman-winning quarterback accounted for five total touchdowns, further boosting his campaign to repeat as the best player in college football.

It’s important to note that Mountain America Stadium was sold out Saturday night, and the Sun Devils and Dillingham no doubt felt the difference in the crowd.

“That environment today… I challenge people to bring that. That was an environment you can win at a high level in. That was an environment our kids deserve.”

Arizona State has its first road test of the season next Saturday, traveling to play California at 12 p.m. USC has an early test on the road next Saturday as well, facing Colorado at 9 a.m.

Featured Image via AZ Central

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