Arizona has improved significantly over last season, but the Wildcats will get a serious test this week, when No. 10 USC comes to town for homecoming.
The Trojans were upset by Utah in their last game, then had a bye last Saturday to stew on the loss for an extra week, so expect an angry USC team to arrive in Arizona, who also had a bye last weekend.
USC Trojans vs. Arizona Wildcats
Saturday, October 29, 2022 – 07:00 PM EDT at Arizona Stadium
Arizona has improved significantly over last season, but the Wildcats will get a serious test this week, when No. 10 USC comes to town for Arizona’s homecoming game.
The Trojans will arrive in a bad mood after being upset by Utah in their last game. It was USC’s first loss of the season, dropping them to 6-1, 3-1 in the league, and put a serious dent in their hopes of earning a spot in the College Football Playoff.
The top-rated sportsbooks are betting they’ll be looking to get the bad taste out of their mouths and to send a message to the selection committee that the Utah game was just an aberration. Plus, the Trojans got a bye week following the Utah upset, so they’ve had an extra week to stew on the loss.
Arizona also had a bye last week, so the Wildcats will be well-rested to face an angry USC team. Arizona has lost two straight to fall below .500 for the first time this year, at 3-4, 1-3 in the Pac-12.
The bye week came at a good time for USC. Injuries were testing the Trojans’ depth in the Utah game.
Addison is last year’s winner of the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver, leads the Pac-12 in receiving touchdowns and is in the top five in yardages, total touchdowns and receptions.
He went down with a leg injury against Utah and finished the game on crutches on the sideline. Michael Jackson III, who had a total of one snap on the season to that point, stepped in and scored a fourth-quarter touchdown.
Addison hasn’t practiced since, so his status, officially described by coach Lincoln Riley as “day to day” is definitely up in the air for this week.
The Trojans have also taken hits at the linebacker spot, with Eric Gentry suffering an ankle in jury and Ralen Goforth hurting his hand. All three are also “day to day” according to Riley.
“I think everybody’s going to be fine,” Riley said. “We’ll see how they progress throughout the week.”
Turnaround in Tucson
Arizona is one of the most improved teams in the nation this season. The Wildcats went 1-11 last year and had won just one of their last 24 games, dating back to 2019.
They’ve already won three games this season, and two of their losses have been to Mississippi State and Oregon, two teams in the top 16 in the country.
After finishing last in scoring last year, the Wildcats are scoring 14 more points per game this season and are No. 2 in the Pac-12 in passing offense and No. 6 in overall offense.
A big key to Arizona’s offensive turnaround and NCAAF pick is quarterback Jayden de Laura, who transferred from Washington State. He is second in the Pac-12 in passing yards and touchdowns.
He has an outstanding group of receivers to throw to, led by UTEP transfer Jacob Cowing, who leads the Pac-12 with 53 catches and 7 touchdowns and is second with 737 yards. Dorian Singer and Tetairoa McMillan have combined for 69 catches, 1,075 yards and eight scores.
“It’s definitely up there. No question,” USC’s Riley said of the Arizona receiver corps. “These guys are definitely right there, if not the best.”
The defense has been a different story for the Wildcats. Arizona is allowing 36.3 points per game and has given up 49 or more in all three of its Pac-12 losses.
The Wildcats are second to last in the league in run defense and worst in the red zone defense.
Former USC transfer Hunter Echols leads the team with sacks and tackles for loss and will be pumped up to face his old team.
Following the NCAAF odds, USC’s offense, even if Addison is not at 100%, should be able to put up points against Arizona’s shaky defense. If the Trojans’ linebackers aren’t all back from injury, it could lead to a shootout with the Wildcats.
Look for USC’s edge in overall talent on both sides of the ball to pay off as the game rolls on, however, and for the Trojans to assert their dominance over an Arizona team that is on its way up but not there yet.
Score Prediction: USC 51 - Arizona 24
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