Week 9 - USC at Arizona
Arizona QB Matt Scott
Arizona QB Matt Scott
Posted Oct 25, 2012

Week 9 Fearless Prediction & Game Preview – USC at Arizona

USC (6-1) at Arizona (4-3) Oct. 27, 3:30, ABC or ESPN2

Here's The Deal: Arizona flubbed its first good opportunity to make a national splash. It gets a second chance to make waves this weekend in Tucson.

The Wildcats were a no-show in their Week 4 trip to Eugene, getting knocked completely off the radar with a 49-0 loss to Oregon. No one has paid attention to the desert since. Yet, even in losing two of the last three games, ‘Zona has made some statements with its play on offense. It scored five touchdowns on an unbeaten Oregon State team allowing 16 points a game. It scored 48 in an overtime loss to Stanford, which is yielding fewer than 19 points a game. And last Saturday, the Cats thrashed Washington, 52-17. Arizona is eager to show the country that it's not the same team it was a month ago.

USC continues to rebuild from its lone loss of the year, a Sept. 15 defeat at the hands of Stanford, with four wins in a row. Now No. 10 in the country, the Trojans might still be on the fringe of BCS National Championship contention, but are more concerned with ending Oregon's reign of dominance in the Pac-12. They host the Ducks in The Coliseum next Saturday, but cannot lose their focus this week at Arizona Stadium.

Why USC Might Win: Troy's offensive personnel versus Arizona's defenders is a colossal mismatch.

USC has Matt Barkley, Silas Redd, a solid O-line and the best pass-catching tandem in America, Marqise Lee and Robert Woods. The Wildcats have, well, problems. Four of their FBS opponents tagged them for at least 38 points, and the team lacks the interior girth and muscle to properly defend the run. This is also the D that made Sean Mannion and Josh Nunes look like the second-coming of Derek Anderson and John Elway, respectively. Arizona has good back-end speed, but only modest talent up front, which is going to afford Barkley the time he needs to pick them apart. And if No. 7 throws less, as has happened frequently this fall, Redd has proven capable of shouldering the load. It's a pick-your-poison type proposition for Rich Rodriguez and his staff.

Why Arizona Might Win: USC is going to score. Arizona is going to keep up.

The Oregon game aside, the Wildcats offense has been sensational in RichRod's first season in Tucson. In fact, the players have gotten up to speed much faster than anyone could have hoped. Arizona isn't just piling up big numbers and leading the Pac-12 in output; it's having its way with some very good defenses. Fifth-year senior QB Matt Scott must cut down on his mistakes, but 10 touchdown passes in the last three games and an ability to scramble for first downs should concern USC defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. At the skill positions, RB Ka'Deem Carey is performing like a wannabe All-American, and top receivers Dan Buckner and Austin Hill will present matchup problems. The Troy D is playing real well, but it has not seen an offense this potent or inventive all season.

What To Watch Out For: Scott will have to make quick decisions, and have an even quicker release. Holding the ball too long will get him planted.

Kiffin has the USC defense playing well, especially up front, where newcomers Morgan Breslin and Leonard Williams are have been pleasant surprises at defensive end. Heck, George Uko is no slouch on the inside either. Although Scott has been in the program for a long time, he's still relatively inexperienced in this type of a setting. In the Oregon game, for instance, he threw no touchdown passes and three of the Wildcats' four picks. If the upset is going to come to fruition, No. 10 has got to make smart decisions, from the opening series until the final gun.

What Will Happen: Welcome to the Pac-12, RichRod. You've officially arrived.

Arizona sent shockwaves through college football with its 59-38 upset of Oklahoma State in Week 2, but that was nothing compared to what'll happen this weekend in Tucson. The Wildcats have been building to this point with close losses to two quality ranked opponents, Oregon State and Stanford. This Saturday, they're going to trade a moral victory for the kind that counts in the standings, outgunning USC to the finish line in a wild shootout that produces more than 1,000 yards of total offense. Barkley will build on last week's near-flawless effort, but Scott will be the quarterback who celebrates, along with hordes of Wildcats fans who'll rush the field once their team hangs on for a statement Pac-12 South win.

CFN Prediction: Arizona 38 … USC 34
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) USC -6.5 O/U: 65.5
Must Watch Rating (5 – The Girl, 1 – Don't Trust The B In Apt. 23): 4