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Fork Report: Devils drop fourth straight at USC

LOS ANGELES — Sure, you could read the box score and know who won, but we all know that won’t tell you everything that happened in a football game. So, we will give you a fork report, providing you with the analysis, quotes and notes from ASU’s game at Southern California. Final score: USC 38, Arizona State 17.

The Story: Matt Barkley threw three touchdown passes in the process of becoming the Pac-12’s all-time leader in career passing yardage and Curtis McNeal ran for 163 yards and scored three touchdowns as the 19th-ranked USC Trojans defeated the Arizona State Sun Devils before 80,154 fans at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

With the win, USC improves their record to 7-3 and more importantly, 5-3 in conference play, which keeps them in the race for the South title. Arizona State has now lost four straight games, which evens their record at 5-5 and knocks them out of the South division race.

The Good: There wasn’t much good in the ball game, although the Sun Devil defense did force five Trojan turnovers. All 17 Sun Devil points were the result of turnovers.

The Bad: Once again, the ASU defense got beat by the big play, as Barkley hit All-World receiver Marqise Lee with an 80-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter that tied the game at 7-7.

ASU’s offense struggled mightily again, mustering only three points and 76 total yards in the second half.

Quarterback Taylor Kelly threw three interceptions and was sacked seven times against a USC defense that had allowed over 100 points in their last two games combined.

And finally, there was another head-scratching play call for the Sun Devils this week. With USC leading 21-17 with under five minutes to play in the third quarter and ASU facing a third down and one at the USC 39-yard line, the Sun Devils tried to get cute. Backup quarterback Michael Eubank, who had entered earlier in the drive, tried a pass to defensive end Davon Coleman, who had lined up as a fullback. Eubank’s pass was short and behind Coleman, who did manage to get both hands on the ball but failed to corral it. ASU went for it on fourth down, and Kelly was sacked by Morgan Breslin and Wes Horton. The drive was killed, and so were ASU’s chances were as well.

He Said It: “We just played really poorly offensively, you can’t win a football game if…we had five takeaways and turned the ball over four times and did basically nothing.” — ASU head coach Todd Graham.


• Alden Darby’s 70-yard interception return was ASU’s longest for a score since Troy Nolan took one back 100 yards for a touchdown in 2008 against UCLA.

• This was only the second time in Matt Barkley’s career that the USC quarterback has thrown three interceptions. The only other time that happened was against Stanford during his freshman season in 2009. USC lost that game 31-21.

• ASU QB Taylor Kelly also threw three picks — a career high.

Coming Up Next:

The Sun Devils return to Tempe for their final home game of the 2012 campaign next Saturday when they host the Washington State Cougars. Game time has not yet been announced.