September 30, 2014

Southern California is the only team in the FBS yet to surrender a touchdown pass.

It will likely next face a backup quarterback who in his first career start last week threw the nation's second-highest total of passes in a game this season.

The No. 16 Trojans and star defensive end Leonard Williams appear to have a favorable matchup against Mike Bercovici and visiting Arizona State on Saturday.

Southern California (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) can improve to 3-0 in conference play for the first time since 2006 after beating Oregon State 35-10 last Saturday to bounce back from a 37-31 loss to Boston College on Sept. 13.

The Trojans showcased their defensive prowess by holding the Beavers' all-time leader in passing yards - Sean Mannion - to 123 for his lowest career total as a starter.

"We definitely came out here and fixed our mistakes," linebacker J.R. Tavai said. "We worked on our fundamentals over the week, the two weeks, and I just feel like we all came out and just did our job."

USC picked off Mannion twice, with Su'a Cravens returning one 31 yards for a score in the first quarter and fellow safety Leon McQuay III adding the other. The Trojans lead the Pac-12 with seven interceptions - all by different players.

"We were talking about that earlier in the week," Cravens said. "I think the coaches are doing a great of calling the right plays at the right time, and everyone is executing. I'm really proud of the DBs."

Williams has one of the interceptions to go with two of USC's six sacks and a team-best 27 total tackles. He will try to chase down Bercovici, expected to make his second straight start.

Taylor Kelly guided Arizona State (3-1, 1-1) to a 3-0 start but will likely miss another game with a right foot injury. Bercovici took over with a mixed performance in last Thursday's 62-27 home loss to then-No. 11 UCLA.

Bercovici completed 42 of 68 passes for 488 yards and three scores as the Sun Devils ran 105 plays for 626 total yards. The negative was that he was picked off twice and lost a fumble, as Arizona State dropped out of the AP Top 25 after being ranked 15th.

"It's disappointing and obviously I take a lot of (responsibility) turning the ball over, something we don't do here at school," he said. "Like I said, learning experience and moving on forward to next week, it won't happen again."

Bercovici is a native of Calabasas in Los Angeles County who no doubt will enjoy the support of family and friends as he tries to help Arizona State end a seven-game slide at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The Trojans will be out to avenge last season's 62-41 loss at Arizona State, as they matched the most points they have ever allowed.

Kelly threw for 351 yards and three TDs in that contest while USC's Cody Kessler was 20 of 29 for 295 yards, two scores and two interceptions.

Kessler, who has 10 TDs and no interceptions this year, ranks sixth in the nation with a 72.0 completion percentage. He was 24 of 32 for 261 yards and two scores last weekend.

The Trojans gained 200 rushing yards against the Beavers one game after being held to a season-low 20.

"We definitely have to keep on running it, that's the focal point of our offense," sophomore running back Justin Davis said. "And once we get the ball going on the ground, everything else (just) goes along with it."

Davis ran for a career-best 122 yards on 10 carries with three scores in last year's meeting.

Javorius Allen has emerged as the Trojans' top rusher with 108.3 yards per game to rank fourth in the Pac-12 while Arizona State's D.J. Foster averages a league-best 135.0. Foster was held to 30 yards last week.

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