Pac-12

Pac-12 Picks: USC will outlast improved Washington State

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Have you entered your picks in the WILDABOUTAZCATS.net “BEAT THE EXPERTS” and “PAC-12 SURVIVE AND ADVANCE” contests? Time is running out. You can enter your picks by the time tonight’s Arizona-UNLV and Washington State-USC games start. Both are scheduled for 7:30 p.m., Tucson time.

With the Pac-12 season officially beginning tonight with USC hosting Washington State, I will attempt to predict each conference game. I’ve decided to limit my selections to only Pac-12 games instead off also non-conference games because of time constraints.

Helmet.WSUUSC

WASHINGTON STATE AT USC

When: Tonight, 7:30 p.m., Tucson time. Where: Los Angeles Coliseum. TV: Fox Sports 1.

Spread: USC by 14.5.

When does USC play Arizona?: Thurs., Oct. 10, at Los Angeles Coliseum.

When does Washington State play Arizona?: Sat., Nov. 16, at Arizona Stadium.

Why Washington State will win: The Cougars’ QB Connor Halliday will be a prolific passer this season and Washington State showed more of an ability to run last week at Auburn. Halliday completed 35 of 65 passes for 344 yards in the Cougars’ loss at Auburn but he also threw three interceptions. He goes against an inexperienced and injury-riddled USC secondary, one of the Trojans’ weak spots. The Cougars rushed for 120 yards at Auburn, more than what they gained in any game last year.

Why USC will win: Although it has concerns with its defensive secondary, USC should some bite from the front seven against Hawaii. It was obvious that new defensive coordinator Clancy Pendergast, a 1991 UA alum, is making a difference with his 5-2 defense. The Trojans allowed only 23 yards rushing against the Rainbow Warriors. History is also on USC’s side. Washington State has lost eight straight to USC, and hasn’t won in Los Angeles since 2000. The Cougars have won only three games at the Coliseum since 1941.

Outcome: USC will win by 6.

Reason: USC’s quarterback play was questionable at Hawaii, but Cody Kessler and/or Max Wittek have the comforts of home to get settled. It also appears the strong running of 17-year-old freshman Justin Davis is making up for the temporary loss of Silas Redd with a knee injury.

WILDABOUTAZCATS.net publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes blogs for Lindy’s College Sports, TucsonCitizen.com and Sports Illustrated-sponsored site ZonaZealots.com.

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