Rachaad White ran for 202 yards and three touchdowns, helping Arizona State recover from two ugly defeats and beating Southern California 31-16 on Saturday night.
The Sun Devils (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12) relied heavily on their running game to overcome three losses, and their defense held up when it was needed for a much-needed win.
Jayden Daniels was largely ineffective at passing, throwing 145 yards with two interceptions – both from Xavion Alford – but White made up for it after missing the game with a right leg injury last week. He is the sixth Arizona state player to run 200 yards in a Pac-10/12 game.
USC (4-5, 3-3) switched as quarterback between Kedon Slovis and Jaxson Dart – and neither seemed to get into a rhythm.
Darts scored a goal in a 9-yard run, but the Trojans had to settle for three field goals from Parker Lewis when they got a chance to build a lead.
Slovis threw 131 yards on a 16-of-28 pass and the dart was 8 of 16 for 89 yards. Both threw interceptions.
The Trojans and Sun Devils have faced some adversity this season but were still in the mix for the Pac-12 South title.
USC coach Clay Helton was sacked after two games, the Trojans dropped 40 points in three home defeats and lost to a broken ankle last week against Arizona star-wideout Drake London for the season.
The Sun Devils have suffered lackluster defeats in a row, with Utah scoring the last 28 points and Washington State the top 28 last week.
A win over Stanford on Friday night put Utah in pole position for the south, essentially making USC-Arizona State an elimination game.
Arizona State seemed ready to give it away.
The Sun Devils spoiled good drives with turnovers and kept the USC drives alive with early penalties. Their defense, however, was sharp when it had to, keeping USC at 65 yards in the first half.
Arizona State’s running game was good early on too.
In the first quarter, DeaMonte Trayanum waited behind his blockers for a hole to open, then stormed through for a 14-yard touchdown – not long after a fox hit the field and briefly delayed the game.
White broke numerous tackles and carried multiple defenders on a 26-yard catch-and-run, then stormed the right sideline for a 47-yard touchdown run to improve Arizona State 14-10 at halftime.
Both teams ran through most of the second half before White raced for a 50-yard TD run in the fourth quarter. White brought the game out of reach with a 7-yard TD run towards the end of the fourth quarter.
USC continued its disjointed season with a stuttering offense and foregoing big plays at key times in defense.
Arizona State needed a bounce-back win and got it behind White’s big game.
USC plays in California on Saturday.
Arizona State is in Washington on Saturday.