The Arizona Wildcats take a 19-game losing streak into Los Angeles on Saturday to face the USC Trojans. The UA (0-7, 0-4 Pac-12) has not won at the Coliseum since 2009 and hasn’t won a game in the state of California since 2017.
USC (3-4, 2-3) is coming off a 31-16 loss at Notre Dame, its second consecutive defeat. The Trojans are 2-3 since firing coach Clay Helton after the second week of the 2021 season.
According to DraftKings SportsBook, Arizona is a 21-point underdog for this contest. The Wildcats are 3-1 against the spread as a double-digit dog this season.
Who will win in LA? Here’s what our staff thinks:
Ronnie Stoffle — USC wins 41-10
I really feel for this Arizona team. It has been an amazingly painful season thus far and what we witnessed last week might have been the worst part.
This weekend will not be a rebound. USC is experiencing its own issues but the game is in LA and they’re simply far more talented. Something to watch from a USC perspective: how long does Kedon Slovis play before Jaxson Dart takes over? My guess is not very long and Dart will reinvigorate the offense to make this a lopsided outcome.
Adam Green — USC wins 31-13
Earlier in the season Arizona lost to NAU and, just when you thought they were a lost cause, had a chance to upset Oregon. Later following a pitiful performance in a loss to woeful Colorado they should have beaten favored Washington.
So what does that tell us about the team? Not much, probably.
The Wildcats we saw last week should have won, yes, but the Huskies are not exactly a great opponent. Their offense is not good and their defense was not elite. Arizona was able to run the ball and, for much of the game, have its way defensively.
While USC is not the Trojans of years past, they are still significantly more talented than the Wildcats. Drake London is a monster, and Keaontay Ingram will be a load to deal with on the ground. Unfortunately even if Arizona’s defense can hang on, it’s unlikely the Cats’ offense will be able to produce enough points to win.
Gabe Encinas — USC wins 34-7
More of the same here. Arizona won’t be able to move the ball until they get Jamarye Joiner as a full-time wildcat quarterback.
The defense won’t break but with the offense likely not able to sustain drives and giving up a short field it’s going to be too much for the defense to consistently hold.
At this point just hold Joiner as a surprise wildcat quarterback for ASU and pull out all the stops. Until then, Arizona is going to need to hold a team to one or two scores to win.
Ezra Amacher — USC wins 35-10
After a demoralizing second half collapse against Washington, it's hard to see Arizona coming out as a highly motivated bunch in a place where they rarely ever have success. USC has scored 26 or more points in all but one game this season (last week’s loss at Notre Dame) and the Trojans should comfortably reach that number again Saturday.
Maybe the biggest drama will be whether Arizona can finally crack 20 points. As On3Sports writer Matt Zenitz pointed out on Twitter last weekend, Arizona and Clemson are the only Power Five programs yet to score 20 points in regulation against an FBS opponent this season. For once, Clemson is bad company to be in.
Kim Doss — USC wins 30-10
It’s homecoming for USC and a chance to take out frustrations on an Arizona team that hasn’t been up to resisting teams looking for a big win. It’s not that USC is very good or consistent, but they’re superior to Arizona in both characteristics.
Arizona allows more yards on the ground than through the air. Neither team is as proficient at running the ball as their opponents have been, though. Both average just under 130 yards per game on the ground, while USC gives up about 150 and Arizona allows 186. Which one can take advantage of their opponent’s shortcomings to pad the defensive stats against the run?
On average, the Wildcats are scoring just under 14 points per game and the Trojans are at just under 30. I expect those numbers to remain fairly consistent at this point in the season. These teams have shown who they are. There’s no reason to expect that to change in week nine.
Brandon Combs — USC wins 38-24
USC’s defense has struggled most of the season, even with the talent they have. However, I’m not sure Arizona’s offense will be able to capitalize. UA just hasn’t had consistent and good QB play really since McCloud went down. Jedd Fisch said earlier this week that Plummer had the best practice since he has been here. I want to see that translated to the field. Will it, though, is the question.
As for USC’s offense, it will most likely be the Drake London show. Arizona will most likely play to stop the run while pushing Kedon Slovis to throw it. And Slovis will most likely be looking for London. Now, Christian Roland-Wallace is a very good corner, even though he had an uncharacteristic game against Washington. Isaiah Rutherford is also a very good corner. These two will have to play a very solid game, and with good safety support, to succeed. London is a special talent. He makes plays against very good corners. This will be an interesting match up. I’m interested to see what happens to Slovis’ decision making if Don Brown is able to apply successful pressure.
In the end, I believe that Arizona will make another late mistake and USC will capitalize and just outlast UA.
Brian J. Pedersen — USC wins 30-13
This is a really bad matchup for Arizona, both in terms of the talent discrepancies and because USC is desperate for a convincing victory. The Trojans are 2-3 since firing Clay Helton and haven’t looked any better under Donte Williams, so expect them to pull out all the stops to try and put up a dominant performance.
As for Arizona, all its usual lackings will come into play.