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USC Football: Say Hello To Arizona

Game Day is only three days away so here are some facts/figures and key story lines for the Orgeron opening act.

This opening statement from USC's press release says it all. The Lane Kiffin Era is officially over and the entire football team is gearing up for a first of its kind game against Arizona Thursday night from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Ed Orgeron makes his debut as Troy's interim head coach following last week's firing of Lane Kiffin. Orgeron, the longtime Trojan assistant and one-time Mississippi head coach, is USC's 24th head coach.

USC holds a 27-8 lead in its series with Arizona, winning the first nine games in the series and 15 of the first 16. That being said, the Wildcats have equally struggled in Los Angeles going 4-15 all-time at the Coliseum. The most recent home slate was much closer than this series would suggest as the Wildcats hung tough before falling 48-41 in 2011.

On that note, the past six meetings between these rivals down the I-10 Freeway have played within a touchdown or less including last year's disappointing loss (the second of the season for USC) falling 39-36 despite a Pac-12 and USC record-setting 345 yards receiving and two scores.

The Trojans (3-2, 0-2) will be seeking their first Pac-12 victory against a team that usually plays the Trojans close as nearly half of the meetings in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less, including the past 6 games, most recently last year’s wild Arizona win in which the Wildcats overcame a 15-point second half deficit.

In 2011 in the last meeting in the Coliseum, QB Matt Barkley set school game passing and total offense yardage records, while Robert Woods came close to breaking the school game receiving yardage mark as part of a 48-point outburst. Long story short, the Trojans and Wildcats know how to make things interesting on the offensive side of the ball.

Just a fun note compiled by the USC Football Sports Information Department, the Trojans have played 17 games on October 10th, tying a school-record in that department and USC is 9-6-1 in games played on that calendar day. The Trojans will also gear up for their first game in the month of October, one that has been rather fond to its hopes winning over 70% of its games and an impressive 76% of its night games, including the fateful loses to ASU and WSU.

Since Ed Orgeron is taking over for the first time as head coach, after spending just over two seasons at Ole Miss, we must remind Trojan fans that USC has won three straight games under new coaches in Paul Hackett (1998), Pete Carroll (2001) and Lane Kiffin (2010), all of which came at home.

This is Orgeron's 11th overall season at USC (1998-2004, 2010-13), including being on the staff of Troy's 2003 and 2004 national championship teams, and his 29th overall year as a coach. Through seven days with official control of the program on a interim basis, practices have been lively, upbeat and filled with passionate competition.

The once top-notch defense currently ranks 10th nationally in tackles for loss (8.2, first in Pac-12) and sacks (3.2, second in Pac-12), 13th in rushing defense (99.6, first in Pac-12), 14th in total defense (306.8, second in Pac-12) and 19th in pass efficiency defense (107.2, fourth in Pac-12). The Trojans offense meanwhile, has relied heavily on its rush (130 carries in the first three games) ranking most to open the season since the 2001 season, Pete Carroll's first year with the program.

Just a quick note on the Thursday festivities: has been launched to provide information about tailgating, parking and transportation alternatives for the unprecedented Thursday night game. Classes will remain in session, for at least the morning session, and tailgating nor parking will be allowed on campus for Game Day.