The Trojans face one of the better quarterbacks in the Pac-10 this week in Rudy Carpenter. The junior quarterback from Westlake, California has led the Sun Devils to a surprising 9-1 record with his leadership and playmaking ability.
The Sun Devils rank third in the Pac-10 in passing offense averaging 261.9 yards a game.
Even though Carpenter has a banged up right thumb he has completed 63 percent of his passes for 2,528 yards and 20 touchdowns. With the 2,528 yards he has become just the fourth ASU quarterback to pass for 2,000 yards in three straight seasons.
Carpenter also became just the third ASU quarterback to pass for 7,000 yards in his career, joining Andrew Walters and Jake Plummer.
Like former ASU quarterback, Jake Plummer, Rudy Carpenter is a crafty player that has the ability to take a game over when he gets into a rhythm.
Earlier this week USC Head Coach Pete Carroll discussed the challenges of playing against a big-time quarterback like Rudy Carpenter.
"He's a problem for us," Carroll said of Carpenter. "Rudy makes plays that you just can't fathom how he figured it out. Ever since he was at Westlake in high school he's always been a very active, kind of resourceful type of guy. If he can't get it done in rhythm in the pocket, which he is fine and very well equipped to do, he can find another way to make a play."
Carpenter has been under pressure all year but when he has time in the pocket he is as good as any quarterback in the Pac-10. Look for the Trojans to try and exploit the Arizona State offensive line with constant pressure.
The Sun Devils running game appeared to suffer a crippling blow when Ryan Torain suffered a season-ending foot injury but the lightning quick Keegan Herring has stepped up and emerged as a big play threat for Arizona State.
Herring has three 100-yard games this season for the Sun Devils.
Last week against UCLA, Herring rushed for 116 yards including a 71-yard touchdown run. The 71-yard run was Herring's third touchdown run of 70 plus yards.
On the year Herring has rushed for 775 yards and 5 touchdowns while averaging an impressive 5.9 yards per carry.
Sophomore Dimitri Nance will also see action against the Trojans. Nance is a tough inside runner that has rushed for 375 yards and 6 touchdowns for the Sun Devils in 2007.
Arizona State is 6-0 when they have a player rush for 100 yards. So the Trojans defense will be focused on shutting down the Sun Devils running game this Thursday.
Chris McGaha has been the Sun Devils most productive wide receiver this season. The sophomore wide receiver leads Arizona State with 41 receptions. Of McGaha's 41 catches, an amazing 33 have resulted in a first down.
While McGaha has kept the chains moving, Michael Jones and Kyle Williams have supplied the touchdowns. Jones and Williams each have six touchdown receptions on the year.
Junior wide receiver Michael Jones has been the Sun Devils big play receiver averaging 18.4 yards a catch. Jones leads the team with 602 receiving yards on 33 receptions.
The USC defense can't forget about the versatile Rudy Burgess. Burgess has lined up as a wide receiver this season for Arizona State and has 25 receptions for 369 yards and 3 TD's.
In his career at Arizona State, Burgess has done a little of everything, having played tailback, wide receiver, cornerback, kickoff and punt returner.
The senior wide receiver from Edwards, California is the only active player in the Pac-10 to have totaled over 1,000 yards rushing, receiving and returning in his career.
The USC secondary has looked great the last two games and will have to play just as good this Thursday to keep the Sun Devils wide receivers from having a big game in front of a national television audience.
At tight end the Sun Devils will start senior Brent Miller. The 6-4, 245 lbs. tight end has played in 40 games in his career at Arizona State.
Miller is a very consistent performer that can contribute as a good run blocker and as an athletic receiver.
In 2007, Miller has 17 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown.
6-5, 220 lbs. Senior Tyrice Thompson is also a weapon in the Sun Devils passing game. Thompson has 12 receptions for 211 yards in 2007.
The Sun Devils have one of the most experienced groups of offensive linemen in the Pac-10 conference. Arizona State returned all five starting linemen from the conclusion of the 2006 season.
The line is led by senior center Mike Pollak. Pollak was a second-team All-Pac-10 selection in 2006. Left tackle Brandon Rodd and right guard Paul Fanaika were both honorable mention All-Pac-10 performers last season.
The Arizona State running game has had a lot of success running behind the big guys upfront in 2007. The Sun Devils ranked fifth in the Pac-10 in rushing averaging 164.6 yards a game.
On the year Arizona State has rushed for 16 touchdowns and has had a player rush for 100 yards six times.
While the Sun Devils offensive line has had success in the running game, they have had a tough time protecting quarterback Rudy Carpenter.
Carpenter has been banged around all year as the Sun Devils have given up 43 sacks this season.
The Sun Devils will have a tough challenge this week as they face one of the best defensive lines in the nation. If the Trojans are able to get consistent pressure on Rudy Carpenter then it could be a long day for Arizona State.
USC freshman defensive end Everson Griffen will get the start this week and could have a big game in his return to Arizona.