Few people could have anticipated what happened in Tempe, Arizona, this past Saturday, when USC steamrolled Arizona State 42-14. The Sun Devils committed four turnovers in the first half, with USC scoring touchdowns after each one to lead 35-0 at the break.
“We went into halftime, we talked to Coach Sarkisian and we just told each other we have to keep on the gas and don’t let up,” USC wide receiver Steven Mitchell Jr. said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “We knew we could go there in that hostile environment and take it over – and that’s exactly what we did.”
Mitchell had four catches for 66 yards and a score, while quarterback Cody Kessler looked like a Heisman finalist, throwing for 375 yards and five touchdowns.
Not a bad performance for the Trojans, who were coming off a 41-31 home loss to Stanford the previous week. As Scott Ferrall observed, it’s always interesting to see the sky-is-falling vibe surrounding major programs after a loss; fans think the world is ending.
Then their team goes out and wins by four touchdowns.
“To be honest, it’s actually kind of funny walking around campus and just seeing how different people act toward you,” Mitchell said. “It’s kind of funny. We love it, to be honest. That just gives us that drive to go out and play better the next game – to show everybody that it’s a fluke. So we just went into Arizona State with a different mindset, I believe. And it started that first Monday at practice and it’s going to keep on continuing with Washington and Notre Dame and form there on out.”
No. 17 USC (3-1), which is idle this week, hosts the Huskies (2-2) on Oct. 8 and plays the No. 6 Irish (4-0) in South Bend on Oct. 17.
Notre Dame is the first of four ranked teams that USC will pay this season. The others are No. 10 Utah (4-0) on Oct. 24, No. 24 Cal (4-0) on Halloween, and No. 7 UCLA (4-0) on Nov. 28.
USC has to hate that the Bruins are undefeated, right?
“They’re actually a very good team,” said Mitchell, who is second on the Trojans with four touchdown receptions. “I know me personally – not just me, everybody on my team – knows a lot of people across town that go to UCLA. So the rivalry is awesome, to be honest. More than half of the team, we all grew up playing against each other, whether it was Pop Warner or high school. So it’s all fun and games, but once we step on that field, we’re not friends anymore. We’re ready to play. Once that day comes, we’re definitely going to show them who the Trojans are. They’re doing pretty good right now and I respect that. We’re just ready to play. . . . It’s going to be a good season. I definitely have confidence in my team.”