USC plays its first Pac-12 Conference South division game against Arizona State, which defeated the Trojans at Sun Devil Stadium in 2011. Staff writer Gary Klein examines the story lines:
Clancy Pendergast was the Arizona Cardinals' defensive coordinator for five seasons and helped the NFL team reach the Super Bowl in the 2008 season. He returns to Sun Devil Stadium as the mastermind behind USC's nationally ranked defense.
"I've coached a lot of games there," Pendergast said. "It's fun to go home and coach in front of family and friends."
It's also a homecoming for senior linebacker Devon Kennard, who played at Desert Vista High.
USC quarterback Cody Kessler suffered a right hand injury against Utah State but swelling subsided early this week and he will start against Arizona State.
Kessler completed 13 of 27 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown in last week's 17-14 victory over Utah State. He is completing 61% of his passes, four for touchdowns, with two interceptions.
Arizona State quarterback Taylor Kelly has completed 60% of his passes, eight for touchdowns, with three interceptions. In last week's 42-28 loss at Stanford, he completed 30 of 56 passes for 367 yards and three touchdowns with two interceptions.
USC tailback Tre Madden's streak of 100-yard games ended when he netted 93 yards in 24 carries against Utah State. The sophomore is averaging 113.8 yards a game and has run for two touchdowns. Freshman Justin Davis has averaged 47.2 yards a game, often appearing one step from breaking long runs.
Arizona State senior Marion Grice has rushed for six touchdowns and caught two touchdown passes. He averages 64 yards rushing and 49 receiving. Sophomore D.J. Foster has only six carries, but he is second on the team with 19 receptions.
USC's Marqise Lee suffered an ankle injury against Utah State, but he will play against the Sun Devils. Last season, Lee caught 11 passes for 171 yards and a touchdown against Arizona State. He has caught 23 passes this season, but only one for a touchdown.
Arizona State receiver Jaelen Strong, who transferred to Arizona State from Los Angeles Pierce College, caught 12 passes for 168 yards and a touchdown against Stanford. The 6-foot-4, 205-pound Strong presents a match-up issue for the Trojans.
"We're going to have to play really well, be really aggressive with him at the line of scrimmage and take him out of his game," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said.
Sun Devils tight end Chris Coyle is averaging 21 yards per catch.
USC has intercepted six passes in its first two games but has not forced a turnover in its last two. The Trojans rank fourth nationally in total defense and sacks per game.
USC has 16 sacks. Arizona State has allowed six sacks.
Arizona State tackle Will Sutton is the reigning Pac-12 defensive player of the year. Defensive tackle Jaxson Hood suffered a leg injury against Stanford and is not expected to play. USC has given up nine sacks.
Andre Heidari made one of two field-goal attempts against Utah State, including a 25-yard kick in the fourth quarter that proved the game-winner. He has made four of seven attempts.
Punter Kris Albarado placed five of seven kicks inside the 20-yard line against Utah State, including two inside the five. He is averaging 40.3 yards per punt.
Arizona State's Zane Gonzalez has made four of seven field-goal attempts. Dominick Vizzare has averaged 39.2 yards per punt, Matt Haack 38.8.
Twitter: @latimeskleinCopyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun