USC (3-2) @ Arizona (5-0)
Arizona Stadium, Tucson, Arizona
3.30am Irish Time (Saturday night) October 12th (ESPN 2)
It took a great effort and some not so stellar play from Oregon in order for the Arizona Wildcats to topple the Ducks on the road in week six in one of the biggest upsets of the year. Following the game, voters took notice of the solid win and helped Arizona shoot all the way up to No. 10 from unranked in the most recent rankings. The USC Trojans had the exact opposite luck last week as they took a lead down to the final seconds of the game against Arizona State before losing on a fluke Hail Mary with time expiring. The Trojans were dropped from the rankings and have become one of the biggest disappointments in college football this season after a promising start.
Arizona has one of the best young quarterbacks in the nation in freshman Anu Solomon who has come out of nowhere to lead the seventh-best passing offense in the nation. Rich Rodriguez has placed his trust in the first-year collegiate quarterback and it has paid off with a 5-0 start and a No. 10 ranking nationally. Solomon has passed for an impressive 1,741 yards and 14 touchdowns to go along with four interceptions while completing 64 percent of his passes; he has added another 167 yards on the ground. Along with Solomon is another freshman in the backfield in running back Nick Wilson who leads the 28th-ranked run game with 574 yards and six touchdowns on 6.4 yards per touch while senior Terris Jones-Grigsby has been solid as well, rushing for 267 yards and three scores. Sophomore Cayleb Jones leads all receivers with 32 catches for 525 yards and six touchdowns; Austin Hill is the next closest receiver with 18 catches for 275 yards and three scores.
A big reason for USC’s loss against Arizona State was the failure by quarterback Cody Kessler to throw a touchdown pass — the second time this season he went without a touchdown throw. If USC wants to bounce back and remain a force in conference play, Kessler will need to throw a few touchdown passes and play like he has been playing all season long before last week. On the year, the junior quarterback has 1,380 yards and 10 touchdown passes with a nearly 70 percent completion rate and no interceptions. Nelson Agholor has lived up to the hype at the receiver position, catching 35 passes for 324 yards and three touchdowns — all team-highs. Freshman wide out JuJu Smith has added 18 catches for 207 yards but has yet to reach the endzone in his young career. Running back Javorius Allen has been dynamite in the run and receiving game, rushing for a team-high 576 yards and four touchdowns while ranking second on the team in receiving, catching 19 passes for 250 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, the Trojans have been relatively average this season. Ranking just 44th in points allowed and near the middle of the nation in terms of total yards allowed with about 391, the Trojans have a tough task ahead in trying to stop the 21st-best scoring offense in the country. Arizona has been much less successful on the defensive side of things, ranking 75th in points allowed per game and near the bottom of the nation in total yards allowed with 434 per outing.
PREDICTION: USC 28, Arizona 38