The USC Trojans continued their extended homestand on Saturday with a 38-17 victory over the Arizona State Sun Devils, doing so in a not-so-pretty-yet-decisive victory.
In what’s become a recent trend, Troy got out to a sluggish start in the first quarter, but with a strong defense performance and plenty of silky smooth instances of Marqise Lee, the Trojans did what they had to do to grind out a victory and keep their Rose Bowl hopes alive. What exactly did we learn, you ask? Well, for starters, the running back situation has come full circle.
5. Curtis McNeal still has it.
Without Penn State-transfer Silas Redd available, senior Curtis McNeal showed that he’s still a potent back when needed, as he had a career day, totaling 163 yards on 31 carries, with three total touchdowns.
The Trojans came out with the mentality that they were going to attack the Sun Devils on the ground, which was a risky move without the availability of Redd. But McNeal was not only able to weather the storm with a bunch of carries, he was routinely effective and showing glimpses of his 2011 self, continually slashing for extra yards and using his speed to compromise the angles of the defenders.
The oddity for the Trojans however, is that since the Hawaii game, USC has not had a 100 percent healthy backfield. Redd was the featured back while McNeal and D.J. Morgan endured injuries and setbacks, while it now seems as that circumstance has flip-flopped, with McNeal serving as the No. 1 and Redd being the mystery heading into UCLA.