Arizona Football

USC thorn to Arizona Wildcats’ side again when UA ranked higher



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Arizona, ranked No. 10 after being unranked, showed tonight that it has more steps to climb to reach the top of the Pac-12.

It was traditional power and nemesis USC that put a hold on upstart Arizona’s rise. Casey Skowron missed his third field goal of the night, a 36-yarder wide right as time expired. The Trojans held on to the 28-26 win in another exciting finish for Arizona, which won its previous four games by a combined total of only 21 points.

The Wildcats, who entered the game as one of the last seven unbeaten teams in the nation, fell to 5-1 overall and 2-1 in the Pac-12 with the loss in front of a sellout crowd of 56,754 at Arizona Stadium.

“Losing on a last second play. It’s not easy,” said an angered Rich Rodriguez in the postgame press conference.

Skowron’s attempt, after USC coach Steve Sarkisian iced him with a timeout following what appeared to be a made field goal, came after Arizona’s Cayleb Jones recovered an onside kick.

USC, 4-2 and in first place now in the Pac-12 South with a 2-1 record, has historically welcomed the challenge of facing an Arizona team that is ranked higher when the teams meet.

The Trojans are now 5-1 against the Wildcats in such circumstances.


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Arizona is also now 4-6 when it enters the Top 10 for the first time in a season. The Wildcats have lost four straight games in that scenario dating to the 1998 setback to UCLA as the No. 10 team, Arizona’s lone loss that season.

What doomed the Wildcats this time was USC’s ability to control both lines of scrimmage.

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The Trojans rushed for 240 yards compared to only 78 for Arizona, which was without leading rushers Nick Wilson and Terris Jones-Grigsby in the second half. Wilson (ankle) did not suit up and Jones-Grigsby, who gained only 32 yards on 12 carries, did not return in the second half after getting drilled by NFL defensive end prospect Leonard Williams.

USC controlled the momentum for most of the game and that was evident in the play calls. The Trojans had 30 pass attempts by Cody Kessler compared to 38 rushing plays, mostly by Javorius Allen.

Allen gained 205 yards on 26 carries with three touchdowns. He is the first back to rush for more than 200 yards against the Wildcats since Oregon’s LaMichael Thomas gained 288 yards on 28 carries in 2011.


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Arizona’s dependence on the run forced Anu Solomon to pass 72 times (with 43 completions and no interceptions). He passed for 395 yards but did not connect on a touchdown pass to big-play receivers Austin Hill or Jones. Fourth-year running back Jared Baker caught Solomon’s lone touchdown pass and rushed for two touchdowns. He led the Wildcats with 43 yards on 12 carries.

Arizona has a bye before playing at Washington State on Oct. 25. USC hosts Colorado (0-3 in the Pac-12) next week before traveling to Utah. The Wildcats must hope for a USC loss and to remain unbeaten the rest of the way to regain control of their destiny.

Arizona has six conference games remaining. Anything can happen. That saying goes for the entire Pac-12.

UCLA beat ASU on the road. ASU beat USC on the road. USC beat Arizona on the road. Arizona beat Oregon on the road. Oregon beat UCLA … yes, on the road.

Home teams have lost eight of the last nine conference games. publisher, writer and editor Javier Morales is a former Arizona Press Club award winner. He also writes articles for Bleacher Report and Lindy’s College Sports.


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