With Arizona and USC both coming off losses last weekend, Saturday’s match-up at the Coliseum will be a battle to get back on track as we enter week five of the college football season. This week’s magic number is four.
The Wildcats will arrive in Los Angeles with one of the steadiest, most experienced quarterbacks in the country under center. Senior Nick Foles, a three year starter, is ranked fourth nationally in passing yards with 1490 through the first four games. He is also 4th nationally in passing yards/game with nearly 375 per contest. Foles also leads the Pac-12 in both of those categories.
With all the success the Arizona aerial attack has experienced, the run game has been quite a different story for the Wildcats. Arizona running backs have accumulated just 249 yards on the ground. That total ranks 4th to last nationally, and dead last among teams that have played 4 games. If Arizona is to come out of Los Angeles with a victory, some sort of run game will have to emerge. USC’s secondary struggled against Arizona State, but an effective running game helped open up opportunities. Make no mistake, Nick Foles is a very solid quarterback (10 TD to 0 INT in 2011) but USC can focus on its pass coverage with him if running backs Keola Antolin and Ka’Deem Carey fail to get anything going.
To make things worse for the Wildcats, this is the team’s 4th consecutive game against a team that has been ranked in the AP Top 25 so far this year. Arizona did not fare well in its previous three contests, falling to No. 9 Oklahoma State, No. 6 Stanford, and No. 10 Oregon by a combined 77 points. The key to victory for USC will be stopping the pass. If the Trojans can limit the production of Foles, it could spell doom for Arizona for the fourth week in a row.