USC Football Goes To Arizona For Only Road Game In October|
Oct. 9, 2016
USC, coming off a right-the-ship 2-game homestand with wins over hot Arizona State and Colorado, seeks its first road victory of 2016 when it travels to Arizona for a mid-day contest. It is USC’s only road game in October. It is the 100th anniversary of the first USC-Arizona game. Troy has captured nearly 80% of its games against the Wildcats, with just 2 losses since 2001. However, nearly half of the USC-Arizona games, including the last 9, have been decided by 8 points or less. The Trojans get a bye next week. USC is playing one of the nation’s toughest schedules. All 3 of Troy’s losses in 2016 have been to AP Top 25 teams away from home. USC coach Clay Helton has seen his offense sparked the past few weeks with the emergence of redshirt freshman QB Sam Darnold, who is sitting on back-to-back 350-yard/3-TD passing outings and is No. 8 in the nation in passing efficiency. WR JuJu Smith-Schuster also has come alive of late (consecutive 100-yard receiving efforts), as the play of fellow WRs Darreus Rogers and Steven Mitchell Jr. and the Trojan tight end corps has opened up things for him. TB Justin Davis continues to produce on the ground, although an ankle injury now could require stepped up performances from young TBs Ronald Jones II and Aca’Cedric Ware. USC’s defense also has improved lately, with shutdown showings against the Sun Devils and Buffaloes thanks to the likes of DTs Rasheem Green and Stevie Tu’ikolovatu, OLBs Uchenna Nwosu and Porter Gustin, ILBs Cameron Smith and Michael Hutchings, S Leon McQuay III and, of course, CB-WR-RET Adoree’ Jackson, who continues to make impact plays on defense (a spectular interception last week) and special teams (he leads the nation in punt returns and is eighth in kickoff returns while tying USC’s career kick return yardage mark). Coach Rich Rodriguez’s Arizona team has dropped its last 3 games, including at Utah last Saturday, and is winless in the Pac-12. The Wildcats have been hampered by injuries in the offensive backfield, as QB Anu Solomon, who ranks in Arizona’s career Top 5 in passing yards, passing TDs and total offense, and multi-threat QB Brandon Dawkins (he is 21st in the nation in scoring and leads the Wildcats in rushing) have both gone down at times this year, necessitating the appearance of true freshman QB Khalil Tate. The Wildcats, who had their streak of 4 straight 200-yard rushing games snapped at Utah, also get ground yardage from RB Nick Wilson, who has been slowed with an ankle sprain, and now-injured true frosh RB J.J. Taylor. Top pass catchers are WRs Shun Brown, Nate Phillips (he has caught a pass in his past 39 games), Trey Griffey (the son of Baseball Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr.) and Samajie Grant. Arizona’s defense is led by S Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles and ILBs Michael Barton, Cody Ippolito and Paul Magloire Jr. The game will be shown live on FOX.