ASU Misses Big Field Goal, Falls To USC, 34-33

The Sun Devils hung with the Trojans all night long, but a costly blocked PAT returned for two points and a missed field goal the following drive led to another ultimately disappointing loss.

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USC Defeats ASU In Wild, Crazy Game

Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Joe Houston’s 29-yard field goal with just over three minutes remaining proved to be the difference as the USC Trojans slipped by the Arizona State Sun Devils, 34-33, in Pac-10 action at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Matt Barkley converted 26-of-37 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns for the Trojans (6-3, 3-3 Pac-10) as they won for the second time in the last three outings. However, Barkley made things tough on himself and the Trojans as he suffered two interceptions and was sacked four times.

The Sun Devils (4-5, 2-4), losers of two of their last three, were led by Steven Threet who converted 24-of-40 passes for 228 yards and three scores, but like Barkley he too was picked off two times and taken down for four sacks.

The only scoring of the first quarter came courtesy of Threet who drove ASU 72 yards in just four plays, capped by a 10-yard TD pass to Gerell Robinson.

Barkley responded by tossing touchdown passes of 15 and two yards to Marc Tyler and David Ausberry, respectively, to make the score 14-7 in favor of the hosts heading into the break.

In the third quarter USC’s Malcolm Smith intercepted a pass and returned it 74 yards for a touchdown to lift the Trojans to a commanding 22-7 advantage after the squad succeeded on a two-point conversion.

Threet and Robinson matched up again midway through the third frame, this time on a 21-yard effort, but less than three minutes later Barkley again rebounded for the Trojans with a 22-yard TD pass to Stanley Havili to make the score 29-14.

The ensuing kickoff saw LeQuan Lewis race the length of the field, 100 yards, to draw the Sun Devils back to within eight points at 29-21.

ASU’s defense stepped up and pressured Barkley as Omar Bolden picked off a pass and brought it back 66 yards for the score, but in an attempt to tie the game at 29-29 the Sun Devils tried and failed on a two-point conversion, leaving them with a two-point deficit at 29-27.

With 6:59 remaining in the fourth, Threet hooked up with Jamal Miles on a nine-yard TD pass, but for whatever reason the Sun Devils opted to try for the PAT instead of going for another two-point conversion. The kicked ended up being blocked and returned the other way by Torin Harris for two points, which meant the Trojans were still within striking distance at 33-31.

Houston’s successful field goal made up for his two misses early in the contest.

USC managed to control the ball for almost 37 minutes, despite converting just 4-of-15 on third down.

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ASU vs. USC: What The Blogs Are Saying

Here at SBNation, we have a wealth of quality blogs that write about the daily struggles and achievements of both professional and collegiate sports programs. Today, we take a look at what our USC and ASU blogs are saying about tonight's matchup between the Trojans and the Sun Devils.

First off, we take a look at Conquest Chronicles. They listed five reasons as to why USC will win tonight, and one of them is this:

ASU's offense is one dimensional. The Sun Devils have a great passing offense that must be supported by an efficient running game to keep pressure off the quarterback. Individually on the season their two leading rushers, Deantre Lewis and Cameron Marshall, average 6.5 and 4.8 per rush respectively. But they are inconsistent, putting up double digit per rush averages in some games while being held to paltry numbers in others. On Saturday, they are matched against the better half of the USC defense, it's run defense. That run defense got blasted last week, giving up more than 200 yards to Oregon's LaMichael James. But what is lost in those numbers is that the Trojan defense held James' to under four yards on half of his 36 rushes. 

While House Of Sparky can't think of five good reasons that the Sun Devils will win, the recruiting advantage from a possible victory is hard to ignore:

Long story short, ASU already does pretty well recruiting in the Los Angeles area, and a win on the road would further raise awareness of the school and the opportunities available to high school talent. Truth be told, if you're an excellent player, chances are you'll be playing a meaningful role almost immediately, just like Deantre Lewis has this season and Vontaze Burfict did in 2009.

Both teams are fighting for a bowl berth - if USC wins tonight, they will be eligible, and if ASU pulls of the road upset, they will be two wins away from clinching a postseason bowl berth. The schedule doesn't get any easier from here, so the Sun Devils will need to step up their game tonight.

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