The USC Trojans are coming off a win on the road against the California Golden Bears, now they have a short week and must go back out on the road for a Friday night game against the Washington State Cougars. Before the start of the season many had projected this a potential trap game for the Trojans. The Cougars are looking sharp at 4-0 and USC is struggling a bit on offense but remains undefeated thanks in large part to a stout defense. The Trojans are on a short week on the road, the Wazzu fans will be rowdy, the weather will probably be bad, and it is a Friday night game on the Palouse against the Pirate Mike Leach and his air raid offense. In short, there is definitely the potential for some serious Pac-12 after dark chaos in this matchup.
“Mike Leach knows how to get his team to put points in the board so this could easily turn into a shootout. If this turns into back-and-forth bout between both offenses, Darnold will need to make sure he is more polished than he has been all season.
The Trojan defense has been making plays over the last few games though and, frankly, they will need every ounce of playmaking they can get.
Cam Smith and the rest of the unit at linebacker played really well as of late. With the Cougars spreading the field on offense, look for Smith to be all over the place come Friday night.
Heading into this season I previewed this game as a potential “trap game.” USC is coming off a tough road game in Berkeley in which we did not see much from the Trojan running game. Look for Clay Helton to try and control the clock early to keep the ball out of the hands of the Wazzu offense.
It's hard to know what kind of team the USC Trojans are about to face, seeing that the best team that Washington State has played this year is Boise State - I would make argument that every team USC has played thus far is better than Boise State.”
USC Trojans (4-0) at Washington State Cougars (4-0)
How to Watch:
Start time: Friday, September 29, 7:30 p.m. PST
Location: Martin Stadium - Pullman, Washington
Radio: Tune in
Live Streaming: WatchESPN
Vegas Odds: USC -5, O/U 60
FPI Matchup Predictor: USC 55.9% chance to win
S&P+ Score Prediction: USC -32 WSU - 29
Massey Prediction: USC 35 WSU 28. USC with an 69% chance to win.
CFP Predictions Composite: USC wins by 4.74
“any opponent who can cause him to slow down and hold the ball is going to have the most success against him. That’s generally been achieved in one of two ways: Flooding the patterns with lots of defenders (sometimes rushing only three and dropping eight) and/or disrupting routes by physically bullying the receivers at the line of scrimmage.
And this is what’s applicable to USC: The Trojans have the kind of talent on defense to do the latter in the manner that UCLA, Colorado, Washington and Minnesota did last season. Those were Falk’s four worst games, which gives me pause as I approach this one. WSU does have more physical talent at receiver than it did last year, but it’s generally young talent; of the six guys who will see the most snaps, two are juniors (who have a lot of experience), two are sophomores and two are freshmen. I’m very curious to see how they perform.”
Follow us on social media!
“USC is a good team with superlative talent, which presents a very different kind of physical challenge for WSU than any of the teams they’ve faced this season. And this is precisely the kind of team that have given WSU fits under Mike Leach.
Think about the way that UCLA, Colorado, UW and Minnesota mucked up the passing game last season with fast, physical defensive backs. That’s exactly what WSU will face on Friday — USC has been one of the best in the country at preventing opponents from “successful” passing plays — and I don’t think we know how the Cougars’ young receivers are going to respond to that kind of challenge. Additionally, the offensive line that we all presumed would be a strength hasn’t been, and this is a big and fast front they’ll be trying to keep out of Luke Falk’s face.
There’s no doubt that WSU is exceptionally well coached. But have the Cougs closed down the physical tools deficit with the additions of guys such as Isaiah Johnson-Mack, Renard Bell and Jamire Calvin to the point where USC’s athletes won’t be able to just sit in base coverages and get themselves into the passing lanes? Can the inexperienced middle of WSU’s offensive line hold up against a physical challenge the likes of which Fred Mauigoa and B.J. Salmonson have never seen?”
“Defensively, the Trojans are going to do a lot of what Luke Falk and the Cougs have seen before. USC Defensive Coordinator Clancy Pendergast is famed for his 5-2 front defenses. He’s now running a 4-2-5 base with USC, and they like to play lock-down man coverage underneath.
Southern Cal will mix up a Dime coverage that functions very similarly, but puts another coverage defensive back on the field instead of a linebacker. They made that adjustment in the second half against Cal, mixing in a lot more soft zone and quarters coverage and getting good results.
The safeties are aggressive and rarely bail to the deep zone. They’ll jump intermediate combination routes if that’s where they see the QB going.”