TEMPE, Ariz. -- Not many coaches would welcome the sight of USC's offense coming to town, but that's how Arizona State's Todd Graham is feeling.
His Sun Devils are coming off two consecutive games against teams that run the triple-option -- Cal Poly and New Mexico -- and those schemes were problematic at times for ASU, even in victory.
"I didn't enjoy those two weeks," Graham said.
"I'll be honest with you, it's very difficult to defend that. And I think our guys did well. I feel good about where we are defensively. I think that's been difficult, obviously, playing against that style. ... I don't like doing that for two weeks because I'd rather be doing what we do."
It's back to the Pac-12 this week and doing what ASU normally does on defense.
"It's a completely different brand," Graham said of facing USC's more-conventional and really talented offense, "so we've got to really do a good job in our practice preparation, kind of getting back into our regular mode."
Arizona State (2-1) hasn't been playing inspiring football, dropping an opener against Texas A&M in Houston, needing a late push to beat lower-division Cal Poly, and coming up with a ho-hum 34-10 win over the Lobos.
But this home game against the 19th-ranked Trojans is a chance to get right and make a statement in the Pac-12 South. USC could be either desperate or depressed after dropping its conference opener in a 41-31 upset to visiting Stanford last week.
"This is what we work for all year long, Pac-12 play, and it doesn't get any bigger than this game," Graham said. "Our guys know the implications of this game. It's not hard to get motivated."
Revenge probably doesn't come into play, but it should be noted that ASU beat USC in the Coliseum last season on what the Sun Devils call the "Jael Mary" -- a 46-yard last-play pass from Mike Bercovici to Jaelen Strong. "That's one of the most special games and teams, and it will always be up there at the top for me."
SUN DEVILS PLAYERS TO WATCH
-- RB Demario Richard, a sophomore, is going to be a force in a league already filled with stellar running backs. Last week against New Mexico, he accounted for 255 total yards as he became the first FBS player with 100 rushing yards and 150 receiving yards in the same game since North Texas' Lance Dunbar in 2011. Included in his big day was a 93-yard touchdown reception. "He runs with an attitude and he runs through the tackles," said coach Todd Graham.
-- WR Tim White, a junior college transfer speedster, has been a valuable addition to a suspect Arizona State receiving corps that lost Jaelen Strong to the NFL after last season and Cameron Smith to a knee injury in the spring. White has six catches for 65 yards and two touchdowns, and he also has a 59-yard run.
-- S Jordan Simone is tied for the team lead with 29 tackles and he's often in attack mode in coach Todd Graham's aggressive defense. Simone has 5.5 tackles for loss through three games, as well as two interceptions.
SERIES HISTORY: USC leads Arizona State 19-12, which includes one victory that was later vacated because of NCAA sanctions. The Sun Devils have won three of the past meetings, including a 38-34 win last year on a Hail Mary.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "I think for anybody, especially Southern California kids that commit to ASU, you know that game is automatically circled on your schedule. It's exciting. I think we've done well against the Trojans in the past, but that doesn't matter because this is a completely different year." -- QB Mike Bercovici, on playing USC.