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Preview: USC Trojans at Arizona Wildcats

Colorado v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The USC Trojans survived multiple turnovers last week against the Colorado Buffaloes in a dramatic and thrilling 21-17 win. Arizona had an unsuccessful trip to Salt Lake City losing to the Utes, 23-36. These two teams will meet in the desert Saturday afternoon at 12:30 local time.

USC is favored by 8 points going into this match-up, but they will need to take much better care of the football this weekend to cover. The Trojans are by far the more talented team, as they were against Colorado last weekend, but 3 fumbles and 1 interception can make any game close. Sam Darnold, although very impressive in the passing and rushing game, accounted for 2 of the 3 fumbles and the interception. He also ended the game with 358 yards and 3 TDs.

Colorado v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Arizona was also unable to take care of the football against the Utes, throwing 3 interceptions. QB Brandon Dawkins was injured in the game, after throwing 1 TD and 2 INT. QB Khalil Tate was not effective in his limited playing time. Dawkins left the game after a hit to the head, and was already questionable coming into the game with a rib issue. As the weekend draws closer, the signs are pointing to Tate as the starting QB against USC.

USC’s defense was impressive against Colorado and they will need to bring that same pressure against Arizona. Tate has limited playing time and experience, so any disruption by USC will likely result in bad decision making and turnovers. USC has been able to get to the QB more and more over the past few weeks, clearly a sign of DC Clancy Pendergast’s increased emphasis of this in the game plan. USC was able to total 4 sacks and 6 tackles for a loss.

Arizona State v USC Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

Arizona’s defense is likely to struggle against the new look of the USC offense. They weren’t able to get to the Ute’s QBs last week and allowed over 400 yards of total offense. Once again, JuJu Smith Schuster should be able to have a great game, as the connection between him and Darnold only seems to get better. RB Justin Davis is likely to miss time with an ankle injury, paving the way for Ronald Jones II to be the starter moving forward. It’s unfortunate for Davis, as he was starting to separate himself from Jones and Ware as the #1 RB.

If USC is able to win at Arizona, they have favorable matchups the next two weeks at home against Cal and Oregon. The schedule that is seen as the toughest in the nation eases up before Washington, UCLA, and Notre Dame end the season. If USC is able to get to November 12th against Washington without any further losses, they set the table for an interesting end to the season with a Pac-12 South title still achievable.