(10) USC (6-1) at Arizona (4-3)|
Saturday, October 27, 3:30 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Scott Haynes, Senior College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: The 10th-ranked USC Trojans seek the 800th victory in program
history this weekend, as the travel to Tucson to take on the Arizona Wildcats
in Pac-12 action at Arizona Stadium.
The Trojans, who are 799-315-54 all-time, have looked the part of a Pac-12
contender this season, posting a 6-1 overall mark, including a 4-1 conference
record to sit atop the Pac-12 South. Lane Kiffin's squad is coming off a
record-setting performance, a 50-6 thrashing of Colorado, the team's fourth
Rich Rodriguez's first season at Arizona has had its ups and downs. Still, a
dangerous offensive squad enters this contest, coming off a 52-17 pasting of
the Washington Huskies last weekend, ending a three-game skid for UA. The team
is a positive 4-3 overall, but is now just 1-3 in the Pac-12.
USC holds a 28-7 advantage in the all-time series with Arizona, including wins
in nine of the last 10 meetings. In addition, the Trojans have won each of the
last five matchups in Tucson.
With several All-Americans on the offensive side of the ball, it isn't any
wonder that USC is regarded as one of the most explosive teams in the country.
Last weekend, quarterback Matt Barkley set the conference mark for career TD
passes, while wideout Robert Woods set the school mark for career receptions.
Barkley finished the contest against Colorado with six TD passes and now has
102 for his career. Woods' eight receptions for 132 yards, gave him a school-
record 220 for his career just midway through his junior season.
It is an honor to be named among USC's great pass catchers.
"I grew up watching all those receivers, ever since I understood what USC
football was," Woods said. "It's fun to follow in their footsteps, to be one
of those great receivers."
Barkley may no longer be a favorite to take home the Heisman, but he has still
completed a steady 65.7 percent of his passes, for 1,773 yards, with 22 TDs.
Woods has been phenomenal at the other end with 44 receptions, for 492 yards
and nine TDs, although he has been a bit overshadowed by sophomore Marqise Lee
(60 receptions, 784 yards, eight TDs).
Rodriguez has nothing but high praise regarding USC's signal-caller.
"I think he's everything that is right about college athletics and college
football. To me, he should be one of the leading contenders for the Heisman.
He's one of the best players in the history of the Pac-12. He looks like a
tremendous leader. From what I hear about him, he's everything you'd want all
your players to emulate. I think he's an example for our league and for their
program to show future guys what college football is about."
The ground game is also a valuable facet of the USC attack, spearheaded by
Silas Redd (583 yards, 5.6 ypc, six TDs) and Curtis McNeal (299 yards, 6.9
The defense plays second-fiddle for USC, but the unit has certainly played
well enough to garner plenty of accolades. The team is giving up just 16.7 ppg
this year, while allowing a modest 334.3 yards of total offense. In addition,
big plays have been commonplace, with 27 sacks and 22 takeaways.
A trio of All-American candidates highlight this side of the ball as well for
USC, starting with senior safety T.J. McDonald (team-high 53 tackles, one
INT). Sophomore linebackers Hayes Pullard (45 tackles, one sack, one INT) and
Dion Bailey (43 tackles, four INTs) follow closely. Junior end Morgan Breslin
(32 tackles) has been the most disruptive Trojan upfield, leading USC in TFLs
(12.0) and sacks (7.0).
Barkley wasn't the only Pac-12 quarterback to have a big week, as Arizona's
Matt Scott threw for 256 yards and a career-high four TDs in the team's rout
of Washington. He also added a rushing touchdown to his stat line, while
tailback Ka'Deem Carey provided most of the ground work with a career-high 172
yards and a score.
Rodriguez has another potent offense on his hands, as Arizona ranks among the
nation's best, generating 548.7 yards per game (fifth nationally). It has been
tremendous balance, with just under 200 yards per game rushing (196.4) and
well over 300 passing (352.3).
Scott has been terrific under center, completing 64.3 percent of his passes,
for 2,355 yards, with 17 TDs. Austin Hill (44 catches, 678 yards, seven TDs)
and Dan Buckner (44 catches, 599 yards, two TDs) have been a potent one-two
punch on the outside.
Carey has been a workhorse in the backfield and seems to be getting stronger
as the season wears on. He has amassed 842 yards on the year, with 11
touchdowns and is averaging 120.3 yards per game (fourth in the conference).
It's a good thing the offense can erupt for points, because the Arizona
defense has struggled in its efforts to prevent the opposition from doing the
same. The team is yielding a generous 30.4 ppg, getting torched by both the
run (173.6 ypg) and the pass (291.1 ypg). The team ranks 104th nationally in
total defense as a result (464.7 ypg).
Linebacker Jake Fischer has been the most active defender for Arizona, leading
the team with 67 total tackles. Safety Marquis Flowers is a distant second (48
tackles), but paces the squad with 3.5 sacks. Safety Tra'Mayne Bondurant (43
tackles, team-high 10.5 TFLs) and cornerback Jonathan McNight (29 tackles,
team-high three INTs) have made plays as well in the back seven.
Arizona has the ability to move the ball up and down the field on most teams,
but USC is the better team on both sides of the ball and will make enough
plays defensively to earn a double-digit win in this one.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: USC 37, Arizona 21
10/24 10:42:34 ET