USC vs. Arizona Gameday Guide: Matchups, lineups, links, odds and more

TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 29: Quarterback Khalil Tate #14 of the Arizona Wildcats scrambles with the football in the first half against the USC Trojans at Arizona Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
TUCSON, AZ - SEPTEMBER 29: Quarterback Khalil Tate #14 of the Arizona Wildcats scrambles with the football in the first half against the USC Trojans at Arizona Stadium on September 29, 2018 in Tucson, Arizona. (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images) /

USC vs. Arizona

LA Memorial Coliseum | Los Angeles, CA6:30 p.m. Pacific | Pac-12 NetworkAll-time series: USC leads 33-8Last meeting: USC 24, Arizona 20

It’s Homecoming for USC on Saturday as the Trojans welcome the surprisingly competitive Arizona Wildcats to the Coliseum for a Pac-12 South showdown.

Arizona opened the season with clouds overhead, falling to Hawaii in a shootout which seemed to indicate their defensive woes from last season were far from solved. However, they followed that up with victories over Northern Arizona, Texas Tech, UCLA and Colorado. That string of wins was interrupted last weekend by a 51-27 loss to Washington at home.

USC brings a six-game winning streak over Arizona into this year’s matchup. Can they make it seven?

Though the Trojans come into the game with a 3-3 record, the grueling part of the schedule appears behind them after facing three ranked opponents in a row. Losses to Notre Dame and Washington on the road were preceded by an impressive home win over Utah and a disappointing road loss to BYU. So results have been all over the place.

Still, USC’s home form has been impeccable in 2019 and they hold distinct advantages in the talent department.

Will the Trojans launch the second half of the season with a win to propel them closer to the Pac-12 South title? Or will Arizona play spoiler and put themselves in prime position for the division.

Gameday Links:

Preview Podcast:

Predictions, Over/Unders and mailbag questions abound as co-hosts Michael Castillo and Alicia de Artola preview USC’s Homecoming matchup with Arizona.

LISTEN: USC vs. Arizona Preview

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USC football injury report

    • LB Solomon Tuliaupupu (foot)
    • OL Andrew Vorhees (foot)
    • QB JT Daniels (knee)
  • OUT:
    • DB Greg Johnson (shoulder)
    • DL Jacob Lichtenstein (calf)
    • LB Palaie Gaoteote (ankle)
    • LB Jordan Iosefa (knee)
    • RB Vavae Malepeai (knee)
    • TE Ethan Rae (knee)
    • WR Kyle Ford (knee)
    • WR Bru McCoy (illness)
    • DB Olaijah Griffin (back)
    • DB Isaac Taylor-Stuart (ankle)

Arizona football injury report

  • OUT: 
    • N/A
    • QB Khalil Tate (hamstring)

When USC has the ball…

USC’s offense hasn’t been the most reliable unit, but they finally have a healthy quarterback making good decisions consistently. At least, that’s what it looked like Kedon Slovis was capable of in a strong performance on the road against Notre Dame.

The Trojans certainly have the weapons. Michael Pittman, Tyler Vaughns and Amon-Ra St. Brown have come to play in 2019 while running back like Stephen Carr and Markese Stepp have been perfectly capable, even without now-injured starter Vavae Malepeai.

After three straight games going up against legitimately competitive defenses, USC’s offense will get their first chance to hit some high notes going up against a vulnerable Arizona defense.

Colin Schooler, Tony Fields and Anthony Pandy are playmakers at linebacker, but the Wildcats have little production from their defensive front and their secondary is exposed as a result.

Arizona Defense

  • END #12 JB Brown, Jr.
  • NOSE #99 Myles Tapusoa, Jr.
  • TACKLE #90 Trevon Mason, Jr.
  • END #49 Jalen Harris
  • MIKE #7 Colin Schooler, Jr.
  • WILL #1 Tony Fields II, Jr.
  • SPUR #31 Tristan Cooper, Sr.
  • BANDIT #5 Christian Young, So.
  • BC #17 Jace Whittaker, RS-Sr.
  • FC #2 Lorenzo Burns, RS-Jr.
  • FS #6 Scottie Young Jr., Jr.

USC Offense

  • LT #73 Austin Jackson, Jr.
  • LG #75 Alijah Vera-Tucker, RS-So.
  • C #62 Brett Neilon, RS-So.
  • RG #70 Jalen McKenzie, RS-So.
  • RT #53 Drew Richmond, RS-Sr.
  • TE #84 Erik Krommenhoek, Jr.
  • X #6 Michael Pittman, Sr.
  • A #1 Velus Jones, RS-Jr.
  • Y #8 Amon-Ra St. Brown, So.
  • Z #21 Tyler Vaughns, RS-Jr.
  • RB #7 Stephen Carr, Jr.
  • QB #9 Kedon Slovis, Fr.

When Arizona has the ball…

Just as USC’s offense looks like a huge mismatch going against Arizona’s defense, you could make the case the Wildcat offense could create a similar challenge for the Trojan defense.

Quarterback Khalil Tate is the obvious danger man, even if he’s coming off his worst performance of the year against Washington and may be carrying a hamstring problem. He’s still capable of lighting up an opposing defense with his ability to generate explosive plays on through the air and on the ground.

Making the situation even more worrying for USC is the state of the Trojan defense when it comes to health. Defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast will be fielding backups at weakside linebacker, nickelback and very likely cornerback. While linebacker Kana’i Mauga has some playing experience, Max Williams and either Dorian Hewett or Jayden Williams are true freshmen with limited or no defensive snaps under their belts.

A bounce back game from USC’s defensive line, which had been the strength of the Trojans before being overrun by Notre Dame’s offensive line, would go a long way for the Trojans. Washington forced Tate’s bad day by sacking him four times.

Arizona Offense

  • WR #1 Drew Dixon, RS-So.
  • SLOT #5 Brian Casteel, RS-So.
  • TE #81 Bryce Wolma, Jr.
  • LT #78 Donocan Laie, So.
  • LG #66 Robert Congel, RS-So.
  • C #50 Josh McCauley, RS-Jr.
  • RG #76 Cody Creason, RS-Sr.
  • RT #72 Edgar Burrola, RS-So.
  • WR #18 Cedric Peterson, RS-Sr.
  • RB #21 J.J. Taylor, RS-Jr.
  • QB #14 Khalil Tate, Sr.

USC Defense

  • DE #89 Christian Rector, RS-Sr.
  • DT #78 Jay Tufele, RS-So.
  • NT #51 Marlon Tuipulotu, RS-So.
  • DE #99 Drake Jackson, Fr.
  • SLB #31 Hunter Echols, RS-So.
  • WLB #26 Kana’i Mauga, So.
  • MLB #10 John Houston, RS-Sr.
  • CB #22 Dorian Hewett, Fr. OR#14 Jayden Williams, Fr.
  • FS #21 Isaiah Pola-Mao, RS-So.
  • SS #15 Talanoa Hufanga, So.
  • NK #24 Max Williams, Fr.
  • CB #8 Chris Steele, Fr.

Odds (USC -9.5):

USC is a 9.5-point favorite over Arizona, per the Action Network consensus line. That’s up half a point from the opening line of nine points, with 63 percent of public money going the Trojans’ way.

The over/under for the game is 66.5 percent.