Week 14 Game Matchup: Arizona Wildcats VS. USC Trojans

By Dave Consolazio and Sam Saig, December 3, 2009 2:59 pm

Arizona Wildcats (7-4) vs. USC Trojans (8-3)
Saturday, December 5, 12:30 PM PST
Las Vegas Favorite: USC -7.0

Sam’s Take (53 – 19):

If Oregon is able to beat Oregon State in the War for the Roses, the winner of this Saturday’s game between USC and UA will likely head to San Diego for the Holiday Bowl. Each team could finish as high as second in the conference standings or as low as sixth. Although the Trojans haven’t lost to Arizona in nine years, the series has been closely contested in recent years (last two meetings have been decided by a touchdown).

I like USC in this game for two main reasons. First, the Trojans can still finish with 10 wins this season and I believe that would provide the program with positive momentum heading into the off-season. After last week’s ending against UCLA, ‘SC seems to have found an emotional spark, and I’m sure Pete Carroll will have his team ready for the season finale. Second, the ‘Cats will be without RB Nic Grigsby for yet another game. Last week against Arizona State, it was clear that the ‘Cats missed their home run threat, and the offense just isn’t the same without him.

The Trojans defense is starting to make plays again, and ‘Zona QB Nick Foles will be less than 100%. I expect ‘SC to contain RB Keola Antolin, Greg Nwoko and the rest of the ‘Cats running attack, which should allow the Trojans D to pin its ears back and attack Foles.

The normally stout UA defense has allowed a 100-yard rusher in three straight games, and I expect RB Joe McKnight to make it four. Once McKnight gets going, Matt Barkley, Damian Williams and the ‘SC passing attack should have plenty of opportunities.

Arizona has led in the fourth quarter of every conference game this season, and I have no doubt Mike Stoops’ club will keep this one close. But in the end, I expect USC to pull away late for another one score victory over the ‘Cats.

Prediction: USC 31 – Arizona 24

Arizona Player to Keep an Eye On: CB Devin Ross - Ross is a shutdown corner capable of eliminating an opposition’s feature receiver. Damian Williams will be his biggest test of the season.

USC Player to Keep an Eye On: TE Anthony McCoy - McCoy figures to be closer to 100%, and I expect him to have a big day against an undersized UA defense.

Dave’s Take (54 – 18):

Gone is USC’s aura of invincibility, and in its place is a lack of certainty on both sides of the ball.

The defense had an outstanding game against the Bruins, but than again, UCLA doesn’t have a particularly high-powered offense. When going up against the Pac-10’s three top offenses in total yards in Stanford, Oregon State, and Oregon, USC has given up 55, 36, and 47 points, respectively.

Arizona ranks fourth in the conference in total yards.

Can USC’s defense build on the momentum of the UCLA game, or will it fall back into giving up points to another high-powered attack? Despite Arizona’s solid defense and USC’s less-than-stellar offense, I think the Trojans have gotten healthy enough on offense to put up some points in this one; but if the game turns into a shootout, I don’t love USC’s chances.

I don’t think it will turn into a shootout, though. I get the feeling that USC will be the more focused team in this one playing their third straight home game and potentially for a Holiday Bowl berth. Arizona, meanwhile, is coming off of the intense low of losing to the Ducks at home to end their chance at a Rose Bowl to the intense high of beating hated rival ASU in the closing seconds. I just don’t know how much more they have to give in this regular season, and they’ll nead to be at their best to beat USC at the Coliseum, even if this is an off year for the Men of Troy.

Prediction: USC 28 – Arizona 21

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