TEMPE, Ariz. -- What kind of #Pac12AfterDark is this?
After UCLA and Utah made quick work of Arizona and Oregon earlier in the night, USC followed suit in a 42-14 win over Arizona State that was over by halftime.
What the win means for USC: It doesn't make up for the disappointment that followed the loss to Stanford last week, but it's a start. The Trojans head into their bye week relatively healthy, which bodes well for an intriguing, five-game stretch starting with a Thursday game against coach Steve Sarkisian's former team, Washington, on Oct. 8. They follow that with two of the nation's hottest teams, Notre Dame and Utah, before California and Arizona. USC still considers itself a playoff contender and has every right to if it can continue play like it did against Arizona State.
What the loss means for Arizona State: It's tough to count the Sun Devils completely out in the Pac-12 South, considering the unpredictable nature of the conference, but nothing the Sun Devils have done through four games indicates they are capable of that kind of turnaround. Once a trendy playoff pick, Arizona State now looks like a team that will struggle just to attain bowl eligibility. It was soft on defense and error-prone on offense, and all the momentum coach Todd Graham gathered over the past few years is quickly fading away.
The game turned when ... the Sun Devils were a yard away from closing the gap to 21-7 with under a minute to play in the first half. Instead of a touchdown, quarterback Mike Bercovici fumbled, and USC's Chris Hawkins returned it 94 yards to make it 28-0. If that wasn't bad enough, Arizona State fumbled the ensuing kickoff, which led to another quick USC touchdown and an insurmountable 35-0 halftime lead.
Player of the game: USC CB/KR/WR Adoree' Jackson. Primarily a defensive player, Jackson led the Trojans with 131 yards receiving on three receptions. Eighty of those yards came on a touchdown reception to open the scoring. Jackson also had a pair of punt returns, including a dazzling 45-yarder.