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at USC 48 … Arizona 41

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Oct 1, 2011


Week 5 CFN Fearless Prediction & Game Story - Arizona at USC


2011 Predictions & Game Story 

Week 5 - Arizona at USC

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Oct. 1 at USC 48 … Arizona 41
CFN Analysis: USC might not be all that great, but it’s a whole bunch of fun. At least the Matt Barkley-to-Robert Woods show is a blast. Give the coaching staff credit for getting the team fired up and ready to go after the loss to Arizona State, and while the defense had a major problem with the Nick Foles air show, the offense was clicking because of the passing game. Barkley’s 468 yards and four touchdowns on a 32-of-39 day were amazing, and Robert Woods’ 14 catches for 255 yards and two scores were impressive. The test now comes on the road with games at Cal and Notre Dame, but the Trojans appear to be more than ready for the shootouts.

If Arizona had any semblance of a defense, this would be a terrific season. Nick Foles is unstoppable, and while he threw two picks, he also came up with 425 yards and four scores as he kept the offense pressing. The pass rush has been non-existent and the secondary has been a disaster, but as long as Foles is winging it around the yards, the Cats have a chance. Watch out for a bit of a turnaround with Oregon State and UCLA up next, but the trip to Washington is make-or-break for the season.

(AP) LOS ANGELES -- Matt Barkley passed for a school-record 468 yards and four touchdowns, Robert Woods made 14 catches for 255 yards and two scores, and Southern California outlasted Arizona 48-41 Saturday.

Freshmen Marqise Lee and Xavier Grimble caught TD passes from Barkley, who also rushed for a score while breaking Carson Palmer's 2002 yardage record with a blistering performance against Arizona's maligned defense.

The Trojans (4-1, 2-1 Pac-12) needed almost every yard against Arizona's Nick Foles, who passed for 425 yards and four TDs of his own. USC outgained Arizona 582-554 in a game largely devoid of defense.

Ka'Deem Carey rushed for two touchdowns and caught another scoring pass for the Wildcats (1-4, 0-3), who haven't beaten an FBS opponent in nearly a year.

Barkley went 32 for 39 with one interception, bouncing back from a rough start at Arizona State last week with another landmark game. After setting the USC record for single-game completions in the season opener, the junior has thrown nine TD passes in his last two home games.

Woods is having the most prolific season by a receiver in USC's long history through five games, starting off this chapter with an 82-yard score on the Trojans' second play.

The speedy sophomore, who set the USC mark with 17 catches in that season-opening win over Minnesota, fell 5 yards short of R. Jay Soward's 260-yard school record when Arizona held him to one catch for 2 yards in the fourth quarter.

Keola Antolin rushed for 87 yards for Arizona, which has lost four straight despite its prolific offense. Star receiver Juron Criner was limited to three catches for 29 yards and a touchdown.

Foles went 41 for 53, but threw two drive-killing interceptions to T.J. McDonald in the first half that allowed USC to pull away with a 27-12 halftime lead. The Trojans stayed ahead throughout the second half to stay unbeaten in four home games this season, repeatedly covering up for defensive struggles with offensive brilliance.

Woods took charge from USC's second play, catching a short pass from Barkley and splitting two defenders before outrunning the entire Arizona secondary down the sideline for a score. Lee caught a wide-open 38-yard TD pass from Barkley late in the first quarter when Arizona's entire defense appeared to focus on Woods, and Grimble caught a 7-yard scoring strike midway through the second quarter.

Arizona's spread offense also moved the ball easily against USC, punting just once in the first three quarters -- but Foles' mistakes put the Wildcats in a huge hole. Foles' first interception of the season killed the Wildcats' second drive in USC territory, and Foles badly overthrew David Douglas in the Trojans' end on the next drive.

McDonald, the hard-hitting safety, made both interceptions for the Trojans, who had just one interception in their first four games.

Woods caught a 28-yard TD pass down the middle just 2:03 into the third quarter, putting the Trojans up 34-12. But Foles kept the Wildcats moving for back-to-back touchdowns in the third quarter, bookending Barkley's only turnover.

After Curtis McNeal rushed for 9-yard score with 9:28 to play to put the Trojans up by 14 points, USC turned the ball over on downs at midfield in the closing minutes. Austin Hill caught a 4-yard TD pass from Foles with 1 minute to play, but McDonald recovered an onside kick to seal it.

USC has won nine of its last 10 meetings with the Wildcats, who won in their last visit to the Coliseum two years ago.

Arizona (1-3) at USC (3-1) Oct. 1, 3:30, FSN

Here’s The Deal … If Arizona is going to stop hemorrhaging, it’ll have to do so in the Coliseum, which has not historically been a hospitable venue for the program. The Wildcats and head coach Mike Stoops are reeling, losers of eight consecutive games versus FBS opponents. Yes, the September schedule was thorny, but no one in Tucson is looking to make excuses for a team that’s been a frequent underachiever with the current regime calling the shots. USC will be looking to bounce back from its first loss of the year, an undisciplined 43-22 defeat at the hands of Arizona State. It was just the latest reminder of how far the Trojans have fallen since former head coach Pete Carroll left for the Seattle Seahawks, and the NCAA began to mete out its punishment. They’ll look to regroup on both sides of the ball before embarking on their only off week of the 2011 season.

Why Arizona Might Win: The loss in Tempe uncovered some of USC’s flaws, from sloppy ball handling to the play of the defense. The Trojans have individual talent, but lacked cohesiveness in allowing the Sun Devils to score five touchdowns. For all of their problems, the Wildcats still have Nick Foles behind center and the nation’s No. 5 passing attack. The NFL prospect, who’s started the year with 10 touchdowns and no picks, will continue to unleash in the direction of a deep and talented receiving corps. Although Juron Criner is the undisputed headliner, he’s supported by a cadre of reliable veterans, such as Dan Buckner, David Roberts and David Douglas.

Why USC Might Win: The last three weeks have revealed many of Arizona’s warts as well. The Wildcats cannot stop a quality offense or a pass rush with even a mild pulse. The Trojans should have few problems moving the ball, blending the passing of Matt Barkley with the no-nonsense running style of Marc Tyler. Arizona’s line play—on both sides of the ball—has been atrocious, which will afford Barkley the time he needs to further increase WR Robert Woods’ already gaudy numbers. When going up against the overhauled and overmatched Wildcats O-line, USC will pressure the pocket with DE Nick Perry and DT DaJohn Harris on the outside and inside, respectively.

What To Watch Out For: If the first month of the season was a good indication, the future at linebacker for USC will be extremely bright. The Trojans’ top two tacklers, Dion Bailey and Hayes Bullard, are both redshirt freshmen who’ve started to play like upperclassmen. A converted safety with tremendous range and closing speed, Bailey has made 26 tackles and two sacks in the last three games. Pullard is a little bigger and more physical, using that size to shed blocks and make stops in the running game. Both are staring at the possibility of being four-year starters at Troy.

What Will Happen: It can’t get much worse for Arizona, can it? After how things have gone for the Wildcats, they’ve become somewhat numb to the losing. Playing the part of the anesthesiologist this weekend will be USC, which is eager to avoid a two-game losing streak. The Trojans will control the line of scrimmage, much the way all of Arizona’s name brand opponents have done this season. Barkley, who was not at his best in Tempe, will rebound swiftly with a pair of touchdown passes to Woods and, more important, no turnovers.

CFN Prediction: USC 31 … Arizona 20
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