A game that features two teams that many predicted would win the Pac-12 South has suddenly become a battle to remain relevant within the conference and the national championship picture.
The Arizona State Sun Devils and No. 19 USC Trojans will face off Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at Tempe’s Sun Devil Stadium in a matchup of one-loss teams that have yet to impress. ASU opened the season with a 38-17 loss to Texas A&M, while USC fell 41-31 at home to Stanford last weekend.
On Tuesday, Mike Greenberg and Mike Golic, hosts of ESPN’s Mike & Mike, gave their predictions for Saturday night’s showdown. As usual, they disagreed on the winner.
“I like ASU to win a close game,” Greenberg said. “I watched every snap of that USC game against Stanford last week. USC does not have a very good defense. I think Arizona State can match up with them athletically.”
Golic said ASU and USC are two teams “that are sick right now,” and the loser of Saturday’s game will likely be written off for College Football Playoff contention.
“(With) two losses, you really may be on the outside looking in depending on what other teams do,” he said. “This is a huge, huge game.”
Golic picked USC to win Saturday, though he wouldn’t be shocked if the Sun Devils pulled out a victory at home after the Trojans’ underwhelming performance in Los Angeles last week.
“Everybody thought (USC was) going to hand it to Stanford,” Golic said. “I’m leaning USC, but there’s something about ASU in the back of my mind that says maybe they’ll pull it off.
“If you’re asking me for a pick, though, I’m going to pick USC.”
Greenberg understands ASU is yet to meet its lofty expectations but said it’s unfair to declare the Devils dead after one loss.
A victory over the Trojans would certainly go a long way toward turning the mood in Tempe around.
“I think they were a sexy preseason pick (but) people will just jump off the bandwagon when you lose Week 1,” he said. "Week 1 is always a questionable game anyway."