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Conquest Chronicles Staff Predictions: #17 USC Trojans vs. #22 Arizona Wildcats

With a sweep of the desert schools on the horizon, we’ve got a few theories on how this one goes down

USC v Arizona Photo by Chris Coduto/Getty Images

Here we go again.

USC in yet another primetime Saturday night game against another ranked opponent. This time, the Trojans look to pick up a crucial victory in the Pac-12 South over the #22 Arizona WIldcats in the Coliseum. With the rise of Arizona QB Khalil Tate, the Trojans will have all they can handle with only two games remaining after Saturday night. Here’s a few ways we here at Conquest Chronicles see this going down.

Richard: While the return of the Stephen Carr looms, USC will ride Ronald Jones II to victory—in what might be a career performance.

The Trojans have had a bevy of injures and bad coaching throughout the season—none more evident than in the weeks after the Cal game. USC is still scratching and clawing, and yet they’ve stayed afloat still ranked as the 17th-best team in the nation. It’s a foregone conclusion that Sam Darnold isn’t anywhere near the Heisman race, so for the first time this season, he won’t be the QB garnering the attention in the Coliseum. Khalil Tate has been one of the best players in the country and he’ll showcase his immense talents for all to see. The Trojans will be without Christian Rector and Porter Gustin, making it much more likely Tate runs wild and USC and will have enough time to sling it around the field. However, I expect those opportunities to be limited as Ronald Jones II pounds to ball in one of his final performances at the Coliseum and eclipses 200 yards in the process. The Trojans will continue the offensive explosion they displayed last week against the Sun Devils and control this one 33-17.

Stanford v USC
“RoJo” will need to get going against the Wildcat defense for the Trojans to roll on
Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Matthew: Kahlil Tate and the Trojans defense will tell the story.

At first, this looked like a game where USC fans could just sit back and relax for homecoming. That was before Arizona quarterback Kahlil Tate went wild in the few weeks leading up to this game. Arizona has some momentum coming into this game with a win over a ranked Washington State team where Tate passed for 275 and rushed for 146. Tate will see a pretty talented USC defense that made life miserable for Arizona State quarterback Manny Wilkins and the Sun Devils defense. However USC will be without Porter Gustin, who’s impact was huge for the USC pass rush. Offensively the Trojans found their groove last week and will get to face an Arizona team who leads the conference in interceptions. The running game was huge for USC as Ronald Jones II had a huge night. Now they get freshman running back Stephen Carr back this week who could be a difference maker. This game has the makings of an offensive showdown. USC has a history of struggling against mobile quarterbacks. USC offense is too much for the Arizona defense and will help USC prevail to a pretty entertaining game.

USC-45 Arizona-31

Washington State v Arizona
Mobile QBs have given USC trouble all year, and Tate is the best they’ll face this season
Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images

Josh: Offense will be the name of the game, and Sam Darnold’s arm will ultimately prevail.

It’s been said before but it’s worth repeating—Kahlil Tate is good. Like, really good. In the month of October alone he rushed for over 800 yards. That’s by himself. Look for Arizona to utilize Tate’s athleticism as they have been during their current hot streak. If they are able to continue their recent run of success on offense then the Trojan defense will have its hands full. USC has had some difficulties with athletic quarterbacks - most recently against the then-ranked #13 Notre Dame Fighting Irish (they are now at 7-1 and ranked #3 in the nation). Quarterback Brandon Wimbush ran all over the USC defense as he racked up 106 rushing yards and 2 rushing touchdowns (along with 120 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and no interceptions). I’m worried about this but I think that, ultimately, Sam Darnold’s arm will be able to outdo any sort of ground attack ‘Zona will throw USC’s way.

USC tops Arizona, 38-34