TEMPE, Ariz. — There’s something about the sight of USC jerseys that puts Alden Darby in a taking mood.
“They didn’t recruit me out of high school, and I’ve just always got something against those guys,” said Darby, who is from Long Beach. “I feel like they don’t care about none of the underdog players. They only care about the big-timers. Every time I play them, I like to show them they should go after those underdogs.”
Darby had a pair big-time plays in Arizona State’s 62-41 win over USC on Saturday at Sun Devil Stadium.
The first was the dagger in the game and came just 47 seconds after D.J. Foster hauled in a 74-yard TD strike from Taylor Kelly to give ASU a 27-21 lead early in the third quarter.
With the Trojans at their own 36, Darby stepped in front of a Cody Kessler pass on the Sun Devils’ sideline and returned an interception 46 yards for a touchdown and a 34-21 lead.
It was ASU’s first pick six since Darby went 70 yards at USC on Nov. 10 of last season, and it was part of a four-takeaway night for the ASU defense, with two of those coming on Darby interceptions.
“I thought that was the play of the game,” coach Todd Graham said of the interception that Darby returned on a tightrope along the Sun Devils’ sideline.
Graham said USC was lining up its tight end in a pro slot formation, then motioning him back to the weakside to get him matched up on ASU’s weakside linebacker. The Trojans connected on the play earlier in the game, but Darby recognized the formation in the third quarter.
“I left my assignment and went and covered him, and the quarterback threw me the ball,” said Darby, who has eight career interceptions.
Darby didn’t have a perfect night. He had a chance to essentially end USC’s chances on a fourth-and-5 play in the fourth quarter with ASU ahead by three touchdowns, but he missed a tackle on receiver Victor Blackwell that allowed the Trojans to extend their drive and eventually score.
But Darby felt the performance was atonement for last week’s disappointing effort in ASU’s 42-28 loss at Stanford.
“We all challenged ourselves in the secondary to really pick it up,” he said. “Last week, we had too many alignment errors and too many mental mistakes and critical errors.
“We were on point tonight.”
It helped that the Trojans were on the other side of the ball. In the teams’ past three meetings, ASU has intercepted USC quarterbacks eight times.
“The switch goes on, and it doesn’t go off when we play those guys,” he said. “It’s crazy how that works.”