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The Thursday night college football game features a big matchup in the Pac-12. The Trojans try to move on after the firing of their head coach and put together a winning streak to salvage the season. It won’t be easy against a very talented Wildcats team looking to take down the Trojans while they are on the ropes.
Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans Odds
The college football odds for this prime time game opened up with the Trojans listed as (-6) point favorites.
The Trojans recently lost their head coach as he was fired and that could actually inspire the team to play well against Arizona. USC had lost seven of its past 11 games, including a 62-41 loss at Arizona State. That was the tipping point for Athletic Director Pat Haden, who fired Kiffin after the team arrived back in Los Angeles.
Defensive-line coach Ed Orgeron, the former head coach at Ole Miss, takes over as interim head coach. Rodriguez said he isn’t expecting USC’s defense, coordinated by Clancy Pendergast, to change. The offense, though, is a bit of mystery. Kiffin, to many USC fans’ consternation, never relinquished play-calling duties. The USC offense has been nothing special, happy to huddle (in a league that is going more up-tempo all the time) and not adjusting schematically.
But even with quarterback Matt Barkley, receivers Robert Woods and Marqise Lee, and Penn State transfer running back Silas Redd, USC couldn’t just line up and out-talent good opponents last season. The Trojans were bland offensively, 40th nationally in scoring and 41st in total yards. This season they are 84th in scoring and 87th in total offense.
The latest college football betting trends for this game reveal that the pressure is on the Trojans with some trends on their side. Arizona is 2-9 straight up in its last 11 games when playing Southern Cal and 1-4 straight up in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Southern Cal. Southern Cal is 1-7 against the spread (ATS) in its last 8 games but Southern Cal is 12-5 straight up in its last 17 games at home. The total has gone over in 4 of Arizona's last 6 games when playing on the road against Southern Cal, but the total has gone under in 5 of Arizona's last 7 games when playing Southern Cal.
Arizona Wildcats at USC Trojans Pick
With plenty of time before kickoff we will wait for more information to come in before we select a side on this contest. Make sure to check back on the day of the game to see who we select as our winner for this big game.
It's monday morning, but we're just a few days away from gameday. Arizona travels to USC on Thursday night for a Fox Sports 1 primetime game at 7:30 p.m.
• Kicker Jake Smith and punter Drew Riggleman are looking to improve their consistency as the season treks on. It's a story that could be on repeat with this program, it seems.
• USC star receiver Marqise Lee is questionable for Thursday's game with a knee injury. Receivers coach Tee Martin tells the Los Angeles Times "you don't want to get a guy out there with that kind of talent that's not 100 percent."
• The Trojans are banged up at the receiver spot and only had one healthy player go through practice on Sunday. It's certainly something to watch on Thursday.
Ed Orgeron is seemingly doing his best to lighten the mood in Troy, and the Wildcats wonder what, if anything, will change schematically
The Wildcats saw plenty of room for improvement on film from their loss at Washington, and a bye week has provided ample time to clean up those areas …
Questions remain in the pass game for Arizona, but Ka’Deem Carey brings playmaking abilities that give the Wildcats a chance to move the ball against anyone … A stingy Wildcat defense kept the club in the game in Seattle and that will again be something Arizona relies on against the Trojans, who have had some trouble moving the ball this season …
USC’s defense had been dominant in the opening weeks of the season, but Arizona State exposed some holes in a blowout two weeks ago …
Both sides are looking to tally a mark in the win column for the first time in conference play … Arizona plays its second non-Saturday game of the season (opened with a 35-0 victory over Northern Arizona on Friday, Aug. 30) …
The Wildcats are coming off two byes in three weeks – a stretch that will have put them on the field just once (Sept. 28 at Washington) in a span of 25 days before Thursday’s kickoff.
his opening statement from USC's press release says it all. The Lane Kiffin Era is officially over and the entire football team is gearing up for a first of its kind game against Arizona Thursday night from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
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.
USC holds a 27-8 lead in its series with Arizona, winning the first nine games in the series and 15 of the first 16. That being said, the Wildcats have equally struggled in Los Angeles going 4-15 all-time at the Coliseum. The most recent home slate was much closer than this series would suggest as the Wildcats hung tough before falling 48-41 in 2011.
On that note, the past six meetings between these rivals down the I-10 Freeway have played within a touchdown or less including last year's disappointing loss (the second of the season for USC) falling 39-36 despite a Pac-12 and USC record-setting 345 yards receiving and two scores.
The Trojans (3-2, 0-2) will be seeking their first Pac-12 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.
In 2011 in the last meeting in the Coliseum, QB Matt Barkley set school game passing and total offense yardage records, while Robert Woods came close to breaking the school game receiving yardage mark as part of a 48-point outburst. Long story short, the Trojans and Wildcats know how to make things interesting on the offensive side of the ball.
Just a fun note compiled by the USC Football Sports Information Department, the Trojans have played 17 games on October 10th, tying a school-record in that department and USC is 9-6-1 in games played on that calendar day. The Trojans will also gear up for their first game in the month of October, one that has been rather fond to its hopes winning over 70% of its games and an impressive 76% of its night games, including the fateful loses to ASU and WSU.
Since Ed Orgeron is taking over for the first time as head coach, after spending just over two seasons at Ole Miss, we must remind Trojan fans that USC has won three straight games under new coaches in Paul Hackett (1998), Pete Carroll (2001) and Lane Kiffin (2010), all of which came at home.
This is Orgeron's 11th overall season at USC (1998-2004, 2010-13), including being on the staff of Troy's 2003 and 2004 national championship teams, and his 29th overall year as a coach. Through seven days with official control of the program on a interim basis, practices have been lively, upbeat and filled with passionate competition.
The once top-notch defense currently ranks 10th nationally in tackles for loss (8.2, first in Pac-12) and sacks (3.2, second in Pac-12), 13th in rushing defense (99.6, first in Pac-12), 14th in total defense (306.8, second in Pac-12) and 19th in pass efficiency defense (107.2, fourth in Pac-12). The Trojans offense meanwhile, has relied heavily on its rush (130 carries in the first three games) ranking most to open the season since the 2001 season, Pete Carroll's first year with the program.
When USC takes the field at home Thursday evening against Arizona, they will be welcoming back an old friend as well. Running back Silas Redd makes his debut in 2013 when he returns from a knee injury suffered this past spring.
A returning 2012 starter, Redd will provide additional depth for a unit that already is one of the deepest on the roster, but as is the case with everything associated with USC football this year, his addition to the roster brings additional concerns.
Joining an anemic offense in 2013, Redd's presence actually muddles one of the only consistent and reliable portions of that side of the ball.
That is because running back Tre Madden has been an absolute beast this year as he has run through, around and over USC's competition with ridiculous ease.
Averaging almost 117 yards per game, Madden has made running the ball USC's only consistent threat this year.
Now Redd is back, and this certainly will change the dynamic for the Trojans in this area of the offense, right?
Probably not. At least not for the time being.
New interim head coach Ed Orgeron and his offensive coordinator Clay Helton both know that their offensive hopes rely on Madden's hard running, and they will not do anything that jeopardizes the only area that they are effective in.
Besides, Redd's conditioning will also be in question so his carries will be limited against Arizona by necessity.
So no matter what, Redd's action will be brief come Thursday evening, but what about beyond that? How do the Trojans look at this position going forward?
Again, for the most part, not too differently. As long as Madden stays healthy, he will remain the starter in 2013. He has earned that.
What is likely to change though is the rotation that has seen true freshman Justin Davis emerge as the primary backup to Madden.
Smooth and explosive, Davis has given the fanbase a glimpse of the future, and needless to say, they like what they see.
Running with authority, Davis has averaged a ridiculous 7.4 yards per carry so far this year, and along with that gaudy stat, Davis gives the Trojans a different look as a back who could go all the way any time he touches the ball.
Still, Redd is too good of a back to not get some touches, and as a senior who left Penn State to help the Trojans seek a failed national title in 2012, he deserves not to be buried on a deep running back bench.
This is not to say that Davis will be forgotten, because he also is too good to sit.
What it does mean is that instead of two backs, Madden and Davis, seeing regular action, it now turns into a three-back rotation with Redd and Davis fighting for Madden's scraps.
So now USC has the three-headed monster at running back, and perhaps it works out for the best anyway.
Leading an offense that will rely on the run for the balance of the season, the Madden-Redd-Davis triumvirate should be effective while quarterback Cody Kessler hones his skills to hopefully create some distraction for opponents in the passing game.
At the end of the day, Redd's return won't have a huge impact on the offense, although he will take some of Davis' carries
As Ed Orgeron steps in as the interim head coach of the USC Trojans, he’s tasked with turning around a program that came into the season with conference title aspirations. At 0-2 in conference play, however, they’ve already backed themselves into a corner and another loss against a Pac 12 opponent could spell doom for USC’s chances of winning the Pac 12 South this season. That puts the pressure on Orgeron to be perfect down the stretch which would be a difficult task under normal circumstances.
Orgeron’s challenge gets started on Thursday night against the Arizona Wildcats. Last season, the Wildcats beat USC in a wild shootout in Tucson and sent the Trojans into a tailspin as the team lost four of their next five games. That’s not a performance USC would like to see repeated this season and Orgeron will be using all the tricks in his arsenal to get the Trojans’ playing their best for this one.
Making things even more difficult, however, will be the absence of his best receiver, Marqise Lee, and best defensive player, Morgan Breslin. Lee remains doubtful for the game following a sprained knee suffered in the loss to the Arizona State Sun Devils that got Lane Kiffin fired. Breslin has been battling injuries all season, missing chunks of two games already with a hip injury, but has been one of the most productive pass rushers in the Pac 12 with four sacks.
Without his offensive and defensive leaders on the field, Orgeron is going to have to get some major production from elsewhere on the roster. Perhaps the offense features Tre Madden and the running game a bit more or maybe Nelson Agholor finally breaks a game open. Defensively, USC has to contain the explosive Arizona running game led by Ka’Deem Carey by controlling the line of scrimmage and forcing B.J. Denker to beat them with his arm.
Taking over a team that is reeling after two confidence-draining losses is a difficult task to begin with. For Ed Orgeron to do it with the injuries plaguing the USC roster, though, is going to make for a rough debut in the Coliseum on Thursday.