Gary Doran

Advanced Stats 12-Pack: ASU vs USC


The “Second Half” Sun Devils head to Los Angeles for their first conference game on the road looking to play a wounded 1-3 USC Trojan team. Games at the Coliseum have not been kind to the Devils, as they are only 1-7 there since 2000, although the one win came under coach Todd Graham the last time the Devils played there. All Devils fans remember the Jael Mary pass.

Let’s see what the 2016 season stats tell us about the Trojans, with a few Sun Devil numbers mixed in:







This Week’s Stat 12-Pack

1. In their game against Utah Friday night, the Trojan defense gave up drives of 10, 11 and 14 plays in the Utes final three        drives
2.Through four games this year, the Trojan offense have had more drives that are three and out than end with a touchdown
3. In the second, third and fourth quarters combined this year, the Trojan defense has only forced only one three-and-out
4. In the third quarter this year, the USC defense has allowed almost 60-percent of the drives to score a touchdown
5. This year, the Trojan offense has thrown 60 second half passes, but only one has gone for a touchdown
6. So far this year, the USC offense has not thrown a touchdown when they are trailing in the game
7. The Trojans are the only conference team that has not completed a pass of more than 40 yards this season
8. In the first three games this year, the Trojan offense averaged 5.60 yards per pass attempt, however, in their fourth game  the average jumped to 9.73
9. The USC offense has only scored one offensive touchdown in the first quarter this year
10. Against the three Power 5 conference opponents this year, the Trojan offense has convert just over a third of their third  down chances
11. So far this year, the USC defense has allowed an average of 4.69 yards per carry, whereas highest they allowed in the  previous five seasons was 4.07
12. In the two games at the Coliseum under coach Todd Graham, the ASU offense started 26 drives but only reached the USC  red zone three times, while in the two games at Sun Devil Stadium, ASU started 29 drives and entered the Trojan red zone  eleven times


Decoding the Stats

The Trojan have struggled mightily through their first four games this season, winning only one against a non-Power 5 opponent, however, three of their opponents have been ranked. The stats reflect their struggles. Almost 50-percent of the drives against the Trojan in the second half end up with a touchdown, (10/21). Additionally, after the first quarter this season, their defense has had trouble getting off the field in that in the 30 drives after the first quarter they have faced, only one was a three-and-out.

The USC offense has not been overly effective in the first half this year either, where the Trojans have had only four offensive touchdown drives, but five drives that ended with a turnover. Also, an average of one out of every four offensive drives is the quick three-and-out variety. Finally, almost 80-percent of the fourth quarter drives for USC end without a touchdown or field goal try.

As for ASU, the defense has given up as many points and yards this year as last season, but one of the reason they are winning is that last year the Devils had 24 drives where they ran ten plays or more and only scored a touchdown six times, whereas this season, they have scored four touchdowns in seven of those ten play drives. Also, 80-percent of their drives in the fourth quarter this season has scored points.

On the defensive side, almost a third of all the fourth quarter drives against the Devils this year have resulted in a turnover. Also, almost 30-percent of the second half drives against them this season have be a three-and-out.

This is definitely a game of two teams headed in different directions, but one of them is the storied USC Trojans that is loaded on both sides of the ball with elite athletes. It’s also taking place at the Coliseum, where the Devils haven’t had a lot of success over the last few years.  The numbers this year say one thing, but the previous years’ history point to something else.

Sources: &

About Gary Doran

Gary Doran

Gary graduated from ASU many years ago. After careers working in banking, finance and the financial administration of academic research funding, he is now interested in utilizing his passion for numbers towards two things he thoroughly loves; Arizona State University and college football. He is looking forward to finding the “stories” buried within the numbers on a football stat sheet. He has gone to ASU football games all the way back to the days of Frank Kush and the WAC. He has been married to an amazing ASU graduate for almost forty years, and they currently live in Ventura, CA. Although this may disqualify him from talking football, he and his wife enjoy the practice of yoga and dancing the Argentine Tango. Ole!

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