Nine years ago today, the USC vs. ASU series had one of its iconic moments. Pete Carroll’s team was on upset alert in Tempe and needed one of Steve Sarkisian’s best in-game adjustments to date.
The No. 1 ranked Trojans squared off with No. 14 Arizona State Sun Devils in a big Pac-10 game that saw College Gameday make its lone stop in Tempe.
ASU, armed with weapons like quarterback Sam Keller, punt returner Terry Richardson and receiver Derek Hagan, came to play from the opening whistle.
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Richardson opened the scoring with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown and the Sun Devils dominated the first half, taking a 21-3 lead to the locker room.
The Trojans sputtered early. The historically potent offense led by Matt Leinart(right) had just 177 yards of total offense in the first half.
In the second half, it was a different story. A fourth down gamble from ASU was stuffed early in the third quarter by USC linebacker Oscar Lua, and the game turned on its head. From that point forward, it was seemingly all Trojans.
Keller, who threw for 347 yards and was a big reason why the Sun Devils were able to jump out to a lead, struggled mightily. He was intercepted four times in the second half.
Meanwhile, USC’s passing game also had difficulty, enough for co-offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, along with Lane Kiffin, to abandon the pass and hit the ground running. And it worked.
The Trojans had three scoring drives of at least 80 yards in the second half, and took the lead 24-21 early in the fourth quarter.
Keller’s Sun Devils would answer with a 10-play, 70-yard touchdown drive to take a 28-24 lead, but that was all she wrote for ASU.
The rushing attack of Bush and White continued to gash the ASU defense,. The pair scored twice in the game’s final four minutes, while Keller was intercepted twice in that time frame to clinch the Trojans’ 26th consecutive win.
Together, the Thunder and Lightning backfield duo of Bush and White combined for 377 rushing yards on just 36 carries.
The 18-point comeback was the biggest of the Pete Carroll era, and the biggest since the Trojans erased a 21-0 fourth quarter deficit to Washington in 1995.
If you’d like to re-live the game on YouTube, you can do so here.