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No. 20 USC hosts Arizona State in early-morning Pac-12 start

The Pac-12 season finally begins bright and early at the Coliseum with a matchup between South Division contenders featuring two of the conference’s top quarterbacks: USC’s Kedon Slovis and Arizona State’s Jayden Daniels.

KEY MATCHUP

Daniels vs. USC’s secondary. Daniels hasn’t thrown an interception in 154 consecutive passes for the third-longest such streak in the nation, but he’ll be tested by a new USC defensive scheme boasting five solid, experienced defensive backs, including hard-hitting safeties Talanoa Hufanga and Isaiah Pola-Mao.

Arizona State: CB Chase Lucas should make his 36th career start to begin his fourth season in the Sun Devils’ lineup. He’ll team with USC transfer Jack Jones to defend the Trojans’ fleet of elite receivers.

USC: RB Vavae Malepeai. While Arizona State has no running back with a Division I carry on its roster, the Trojans have four tested tailbacks headlined by Malepeai, who led USC in rushing last season despite missing five games with a knee injury. Rested and healthy, the senior is primed for an outstanding season.

FACTS & FIGURES

USC can’t find an earlier starting time for a home game in its records, which go back to at least the early 1950s. The breakfast kickoff is for national television’s sake. ... Clay Helton begins his fifth full season as USC’s perpetually embattled head coach. His new defensive co-ordinator, Todd Orlando, takes over for Clancy Pendergast. ... USC returns 16 starters, although it still waited until less than 24 hours before the game to issue a depth chart. ... Arizona State has won in two of its last three trips to the Coliseum, including a 38-35 victory in 2018 that blemished USC’s 19-0 home record under Helton, who had to start his third-string quarterback. ... Along with Slovis, USC returns its top six rushers and seven of its top eight pass-catchers from last season. ... Arizona State beat two ranked teams on the road last year under coach Herm Edwards. Before that, ASU had won just four games on the road against ranked teams in 21 years. ASU is 6-4 overall against ranked teams under Edwards. ... Daniels needs 57 yards passing to reach 3,000 for his career. He missed last season’s matchup with USC due to an injury, and Slovis led the Trojans to a 31-26 win in Tempe.
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