Washington State (1-1) vs. USC (1-1)
12:30 p.m. Saturday, Martin Stadium
TV/Radio: FOX; 770 KTTH AM
Latest line: USC by 9
WSU key players
QB Jayden de Laura: 33 of 51, 458 yards, 4 TD, 1 INT
RB Max Borghi: 24 rushes, 145 yards, 2 TD
WR Calvin Jackson Jr.: 10 receptions, 168 yards, 1 TD
LB Jahad Woods: 18 tackles, 1.5 TFL
USC key players
QB Kedon Slovis: 51 of 78, 479 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT
RB Vavae Malepeai: 29 rushes, 168 yards
WR Drake London: 16 rec., 205 yards, 1 TD
S Greg Johnson: 9 tackles, 2 TFL, 1 INT
Get ahead early
USC players have had to deal with a lot this week after coach Clay Helton was fired Monday. It’s fair to wonder about the Trojans’ mindset. And if the Cougars can take an early lead, they might not get much resistance. Certainly the Cougars cannot afford to start like they did last season at USC when they trailed 28-0 after one quarter en route to a 38-13 loss.
Do a better job against Slovis
The Cougars had no success stopping USC quarterback Kedon Slovis last season. He threw four touchdown passes in the first quarter, five in the first half, and at one point had 18 consecutive completions. He finished 25 of 32 for 287 yards, and the numbers undoubtedly would have been a lot bigger had the score been closer and USC felt the need to pass. WSU has to defend the pass much better in this year’s matchup to have a chance to win.
Take care of the ball
The Trojans took advantage of three first-half WSU turnovers last season — WSU quarterback Jayden de Laura had two interceptions and a fumble — that helped stake the Trojans to a 35-0 first-half lead. The Cougars cannot afford to lose the turnover battle against a team as talented as USC.
The USC fan base had been unhappy with Helton for years, but the players liked him a lot. This could be a great week for the Cougars to play USC, which has had a lot to think about.
Prediction: Washington State 34, USC 27