USC Football Hosts Arizona In Historic Thursday Night Game|
Oct. 6, 2013
What had already been set up as a historic game—USC’s first-ever non-Thanksgiving/non-bowl Thursday game in the Coliseum—has now taken on an even more notable angle as Ed Orgeron makes his debut as Troy’s interim head coach following last week’s firing of Lane Kiffin. Orgeron, the longtime Trojan assistant and one-time Mississippi head coach, is USC’s 24th head coach. The immediate hope is that he can lead the Trojans, sitting on a pair of league losses, to their first Pac-12 win of 2013. Because the game is on a school day (it is USC’s first weekday home contest since 2002), on-campus tailgating and parking will not be allowed, but there are many alternatives available for fans (those options are detailed at WePlayFor2013.com/Thursday). It is actually USC’s second Thursday game of 2013 (along with the opener at Hawaii) and is the second of 3 midweek games the Trojans will play this year (next month’s Oregon State road game is on a Friday). The game is being played on the most popular regular season date in USC football history. USC will be seeking a victory against a team that usually plays the Trojans close as nearly half of the meetings in the series have been decided by a touchdown or less, including the past 6 games, most recently last year’s wild Arizona win in which the Wildcats overcame a 15-point second half deficit. But Arizona has only beaten USC 4 times in Los Angeles. USC is coming off a bye following a shellacking at Arizona State in which it surrendered a school record-tying 62 points. Until that game, the Trojans appeared to have a staunch defense and, in fact, they still rank high nationally in total defense, rushing defense, pass efficiency defense, sacks and tackles for loss. USC’s defense is led by OLBs Morgan Breslin (the 2012 Hendricks Award finalist who tops the Pac-12 in sacks) and Devon Kennard, DEs Leonard Williams and George Uko, LB Hayes Pullard, S Dion Bailey and S-CB Josh Shaw. The Trojan offense finally got untracked when it piled up 542 total yards (8.1 yards per play) at ASU but it had 4 turnovers. TBs Tre Madden and Justin Davis both eclipsed 100 rushing yards in Tempe (it was Madden’s fourth 100-yard outing of the year and he currently is 13th nationally in rushing). WR Marqise Lee, the 2012 unanimous All-American and Biletnikoff Award winner, set the school career receiving yardage record and moved to No. 2 on USC’s all-time receptions list, but he hurt his knee at ASU. QB Cody Kessler is completing 63.5% of his passes. Arizona also had a bye last week following a league loss (at Washington), its first defeat of 2013. Under head coach Rich Rodriguez, the Wildcats feature a high-tempo offense and a stingy defense. Most of UA’s offense comes via the ground (the Wildcats are 10th nationally in rushing offense at nearly 300 yards per game) thanks primarily to the play of RB Ka’Deem Carey, a 2012 All-American and All-Pac-12 first teamer who led the nation in rushing last fall with a school record 1,929 yards. He is averaging almost 150 rushing yards in 2013, fifth best in the country, and he has hit the 100-yard rushing mark in his past 7 outings. QB B.J. Denker can hurt foes with his left arm or his legs. On the other side, the Wildcats are in the nation’s top 11 in scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and turnover margin as some veterans lead the way, including Ss Tra’Mayne Bondurant, who is fifth nationally in interceptions, and Jared Tevis, LBs Jake Fischer and Marquis Flowers and CB Shaquille Richardson. The game will be shown live nationally on FOX Sports 1. As part of USC’s 125th anniversary of athletics celebration (dating to the first football game in 1888), men’s and women’s track and field, cross country and rowing alumni will be honored on the field during the game.