Postgame Wrap: No. 21 USC defeats ASU

Matt Barkley / Getty Images

The schedule still reads "regular season" but it felt more like a playoff atmosphere for No. 21 USC. Despite going into Saturday's game with a 6-3 overall record, the Trojans still have control of their postseason fate.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. -- Two weeks into November and after two straight losses, all USC needed on a chilly fall afternoon was a win.

No need at this point to be flashy or glamorous, just a win.

For the first time since mid-October, the AP's No. 21 team delivered, sealing a victory against Arizona State as they put the Sun Devils away for good in the fourth quarter on Saturday, 38-17.

"It was a really good team win," USC Coach Lane Kiffin said after the game. "It wasn't a perfect game, but we played a conference game and won by 21 points."

In front of a late-arriving 80,154 in the Coliseum, the Trojans got off to the now all too familiar slow start that's plagued them all season, allowing Arizona State deep into their own territory before making a big fourth down stop.

Senior quarterback Matt Barkley stepped onto the field for the Trojans' first offensive drive in the game and within seconds, the sparse crowd let out a collective cheer followed by what's nearly become an inevitable sigh, as sophomore receiver Marqise Lee fumbled USC's first offensive play of the game.

It was one of five turnovers for the Trojans, but unlike their last two turnover riddled games, the mistakes against the Sun Devil's were overcome.

Barkley, who set a goal with Kiffin after the Oregon loss to "not throw a pick over the next three games" finished the afternoon throwing three interceptions.

"I'm definitely pleased with the win more than anything," Barkley said in the post-game press conference. "You definitely don't want those picks. There's definitely been some weird situations and I don't want that to happen again."

Barkley finished 20-of-33 with three touchdowns, including an 80-yard strike in the first quarter to Marqise Lee.

Lee finished with 10 catches, 227 all-purpose yards, and a touchdown.

The bulk of Saturday's offensive work was on the back of senior tailback Curtis McNeal who carried the ball 31 times for 164 yards and rushing for two touchdowns and even make his first career-reception. It was the second time McNeal passed the 100-yard mark this season.

"It felt good," he said. "I'm worried about getting a ‘W' even if I don't get the ball."

After a dismal performance in back-to-back games the Trojans' defense came back to life against Arizona State, recording seven sacks and collecting four turnovers.

"We really felt like we've played good defense for seven and a half weeks and for five and half quarters we played bad," Kiffin said. "We were aggressive and got after the ball and that was great to see."

USC improves to 7-3 overall, 5-3 in the Pac-12. Saturday's win marked the 800th in program history.

The Trojans are back in action next Saturday in the Rose Bowl taking on crosstown rival UCLA.

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Kevin Carden contributed to this video.

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