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Week 2 - Washington State at USC
Washington State QB Connor Halliday
Washington State QB Connor Halliday
Posted Sep 4, 2013

Week 2 Fearless Prediction & Preview - Washington State at USC

Washington State (0-1) at USC (1-0) Sept. 7, 10:30, FOX Sports 1

Why You Should Give A Hoot: Neither Wazzu nor USC will waste much time getting the Pac-12 portion of the schedule off and running. Both schools began the 2013 campaign with non-conference road trips, the Cougars earning a moral victory in a loss to Auburn, and the Trojans picking up an uninspired win at Hawaii, 30-13. Troy failed to impress, with the main storyline being that neither quarterback, Max Wittek or Cody Kessler, played as if he deserved the starting gig. Head coach Lane Kiffin needs to get his offense humming, or else it’s going to be another unfulfilled year in Los Angeles. While Washington State played well enough to give second-year coach Mike Leach a signature win on the Plains, it was done in by two Tigers scoring plays of at least 75 yards.

Why Washington State Might Win: Yeah, Auburn is down, but the Cougars have been way down for many years. And yet, they outgained an SEC team on the road, 464-396. While QB Connor Halliday must cut down on his mistakes, he did throw for 344 yards. The Deone Bucannon-led defense is capable of keeping USC reeling on offense if it can eliminate the big plays. Washington State was especially salty in pass defense in Week 1.

Why USC Might Win: So far, so good with new coordinator Clancy Pendergast’s defense. Okay, the opponent was Hawaii, but the Trojans were noticeably more active and aggressive than in recent seasons, notching seven sacks and four interceptions. The Cougars are one-dimensional under Leach, which is going to allow Pendergast to slough his defenders back to cut off intermediate passing lanes. Wazzu will pile up passing yards, but at the expense of turnovers that give USC a short field with which to work.

Who To Watch Out For: So, who starts for Kiffin under center? It’s going to be Kessler, but that’s not going to be set in stone. If he struggles, watch out for a quick hook.

- Whoever gets the nod from Kiffin will continue to have access to a bevy of gifted pass-catchers. Marqise Lee is the country’s best wide receiver, Nelson Agholor is a budding star and the tight ends are deep and outstanding. Now go maximize their skills.

- The Cougars have a shot if they can get their top receivers, Gabe Marks and Dominique Williams, in space so that they can exploit an inexperienced USC secondary that remains vulnerable through the air.

- It’ll be a shock if the Trojans don’t dominate the line of scrimmage when Washington State has the ball. George Uko, Leonard Williams, Morgan Breslin and Devon Kennard are all adept at pressuring the pocket.
What Will Happen: It’s going to take time for USC to be in sync on offense. Until that happens, the defense will lead the charge. Balance will be needed to exploit this year’s Trojans, but that’ll be a problem for pass-happy Wazzu. Halliday will air it out, naturally, putting Troy in a position to halt drives with takeaways. Look for more consistency from the USC quarterbacks to go along with a touchdown apiece from Tre Madden and Justin Davis on the ground.

Prediction: USC 38 … Washington State 20
Line: USC -15 – O/U: 53
Must See Rating: (5 Olbermann – 1 Total Divas) … 2.5