USC vs. Idaho Game Preview: Matchups, Injuries, Lineups and Links


USC vs. Idaho

LA Coliseum | Los Angeles, Calif.5:00 PM Pacific | Pac-12 NetworkAll-time Series: USC leads 8-0Last meeting: USC 38, Idaho 10 in 2007

USC football’s pre-Pac-12 slate wraps up tonight when the Trojans take on the Idaho Vandals at the Coliseum in a game which many project as a sure-fire blowout. Will the No. 8 Trojans trample the lowly Vandals as expected? It is hard to say no.

USC has aspirations of a Pac-12 title and perhaps more. Idaho on the other hand, hasn’t won more than one game in a season since since 2011. While the Trojans demolished the Arkansas State Red Wolves in Week 1, Idaho dropped their home opener to Ohio.

This “Tale of Two Teams” kicks off at 5:00 p.m. Until then, here’s everything you need to get ready for the game:

Preview Podcast:

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When Idaho has the ball:

Quarterback Matt Linehan will helm the Idaho offense, hoping to take a big step forward from his first season in 2014. With the third-most pass attempts among freshmen, Linehan struggled as a young player in his position would be expected to. All told he threw 18 interceptions with a 114.9 passer rating, which put him among the worst in the nation.

Improving on that against USC should prove difficult as the Trojans pass rush appeared much improved against Arkansas State, forcing Arkansas State dual-threat quarterback Fredi Knighten to scramble for his life. Linehan does not posses nearly the same running ability.

He will also be without his favored target from Week 1, after Dezmon Epps was suspended for the game due to a shoplifting incident.

Epps had 15 catches for 160 yards in the season opener and was one of the lone brightspots for the Vandals, so he will certainly be missed. The next-closest wide receiver had three catches.

Senior running back Elijhaa Penny, who scored 12 touchdowns in his first season with the Vandals, will be available to help lighten the load though. The 6-foot-2, 235-pound runner is one of Idaho’s more consistent weapons on offense.

Last week against Arkansas State, the Trojans’ rush defense was a slight concern, giving up 208 yards. However Knighten led all rushers as a quarterback, and the bulk of the successful carries came via fly sweeps out on the perimeter. including Warren Wand’s 52 yards in his freshman debut.

Click here for a full offensive preview and statistical analysis of the Vandals.

Gameday Links:

When USC has the ball:

Idaho possesses a senior-laden defense with six of 11 starters in their final season with the Vandals. The senior USC should be most concerned about is captain and defensive end Quinton Bradley, who had six sacks last year to lead the team.

With NFL scouts keeping tabs on the 6-foot-3, 259-pound lineman, he started his 2015 season brightly by logging two sacks and a forced fumble against Ohio.

Senior linebacker Marc Millan also proved capable of getting into opponent backfield last year. He had 14.5 tackles for loss from the strongside in 2014. For his efforts, he earned a place alongside Bradley as an All-Sun Belt honorable mention.

Considering the Trojans’ troubles up front in the season opener, keeping Bradley and Millan in check will be key.

Should Cody Kessler’s jersey remain relatively clean, there should be ample opportunity for USC to find success in the passing game. The Vandals were among the worst in college football last year at making quarterbacks look bad. In fact, they were 126th in opponent passer rating out of 128 teams.

Offensively, USC was stop and go for much of Week 1, relying on big plays to get things going. The Trojans didn’t turn the ball over, but a 30 percent third down conversion rate and six punts are an area to improve on Clay Helton’s debut as the full-time play caller.

Look for Troy to hit the ground running against Idaho, as junior running back Justin Davis is back after a rib injury, and true freshman Ronald Jones II dazzled at times last week against Arkansas State.

Click here for a full defensive preview and statistical analysis of the Vandals.

Injury Updates:


  • Out for season: WR Ajene Harris (hip)
  • Out: LB Lamar Dawson (ribs), DL Jordan Simmons (knee)
  • Probable: RB Justin Davis (ribs), CB/WR Adoree’ Jackson (abdomen), WR Steve Mitchell (wrist), DL Claude Pelon (knee), OL Viane Talamaivao (knee)


  • Out for season: CB Isaiah Taylor (dismissed)
  • Out: WR Dezmon Epps (suspension), WR David Ungerer (foot)
  • Probable: N/A

Projected Starting Line Ups:

Idaho Offense

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USC Defense

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USC Offense

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Idaho Defense

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