Caleb Williams threw for 322 yards and accounted for five touchdowns, Marshawn Lloyd ran for 154 yards and No. 5 Southern California outlasted Arizona State's upset bid with a 42-28 win on Saturday night.
Nearly five-touchdown favorites, the high-scoring Trojans (4-0, 2-0 Pac-12) were off-kilter offensively for long stretches, plagued by ill-timed penalties and an early fumble in their own end.
USC had a touchdown negated by a penalty, lost a fumble to set up an Arizona State score and turned it over deep in the Sun Devils' end in the third quarter.
The Trojans' defense stepped up while the offense stagnated, coming up with three big sacks — one that led to a fumble by Arizona State quarterback Drew Pyne near midfield. Williams darted and danced through Arizona State's defense on the ensuing drive, hitting Brenden Rice for a 29-yard touchdown and a 35-21 lead.
Arizona State pulled within a touchdown on Cam Skattebo's balancing-act 52-yard touchdown, but Williams found Tahj Washington on a 45-yard TD pass to make it 42-28. Williams also hit Rice on a 25-yard TD in the first half and scored on a pair of 1-yard runs.
The Sun Devils (1-3, 0-1) opened up the playbook to keep up with the Trojans, a week after turning it over eight times in their first home shutout loss since 1988.
Arizona State used a variety of trick plays — two on halfback passes — to trail by eight at halftime and pulled within 24-21 on Pyne's 25-yard touchdown pass to Elijah Badger in the third quarter.
Skattebo, who had a 15-yard touchdown run in the first half, gave the Sun Devils a chance with his TD catch midway through the fourth quarter. Williams answered and USC's defense tightened again, ending the upset bid.
USC: The Trojans were expected to run over an injury-riddled team in their first road game. They faced a much stiffer test than expected, but managed to pull out a win.
Arizona State: The Sun Devils were down to their third-string quarterback and were without three key offensive linemen, yet still managed to keep USC within reach. It wasn't a win, but certainly something they can build on in coach Kenny Dillingham's first season.
USC: Plays at No. 19 Colorado next Saturday.
Arizona State: Plays at California next Saturday.
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