What’s ahead for the Trojans

October, 2, 2013
10/02/13
5:00
AM PT
With the dismissal of Lane Kiffin and the naming of Ed Orgeron as interim coach, the current bye week provides an opportune time for USC (3-2 overall, 0-2 Pac-12) to take a deep breath. But with the most challenging stretch of their schedule still to come, the Trojans will need to regroup in a hurry. With that in mind, here’s a week-by-week look at USC’s remaining regular-season opponents.

Oct. 10
Arizona
Record: 3-1, 0-1 Pac-12
Key team statistics
Rushing offense: 291.5 yards per game (No. 2 Pac-12, No. 9 overall)
Passing offense: 111.2 yards per game (No. 12 Pac-12, No. 117 overall)

Notes: Hosting a rare Thursday night contest, the Trojans will take on an Arizona team that began the season on the right foot, but was brought back down to earth by Washington this past Saturday. Still, the Wildcats are no pushover, and tailback Ka’Deem Carey -- No. 3 in rushing nationally with 143.7 yards per game -- spearheads an extremely potent ground attack. Quarterback B.J. Denker is another capable rushing threat, but he’s struggled in the passing department, completing just 50 percent of his throws. On the other side of the ball the Wildcats have made strides since last season, ranking No. 2 in the Pac-12 with a turnover margin of plus-five.

Oct. 19
At Notre Dame
Record: 3-2
Key team statistics
Total offense: 380.2 yards per game (No. 88 overall)
Total defense: 364 yards per game (No. 46 overall)

Notes: A team that started out with high hopes, Notre Dame has hit a couple of bumps in the road so far. The Irish were completely overmatched in their recent 35-21 loss to Oklahoma. The defense has looked sharp at times, but not on a consistent basis like last year’s unit. Quarterback Tommy Rees has completed just 39.7 percent of his passes over the last two games, and he was picked off three times against the Sooners.

Oct. 26
Utah
Record: 3-1, 0-1 Pac-12
Key team statistics
Scoring offense: 42 points per game (No. 4 Pac-12, No. 19 overall)
Passing defense: 288.2 yards per game (No. 11 Pac-12, No. 111 overall)

Notes: Utah’s only loss came in a 51-48 overtime thriller to Oregon State, and as a whole, the Utes appear to have improved from 2012. Travis Wilson has settled in nicely at quarterback, directing an offense that averages more than 500 total yards per game. Led by a stout front seven, the defense has already compiled 15 sacks in four contests but the secondary has been picked apart at times.

Nov. 1
At Oregon State
Record: 4-1, 2-0 Pac-12
Key team statistics
Passing offense: 420.6 points per game (No. 1 Pac-12, No. 2 overall)
Total defense: 405.6 yards per game (No. 10 Pac-12, No. 71 overall)

Notes: The Beavers haven’t faced the stiffest of competition as of yet, and they lost in an opening day stunner to Eastern Washington, 49-46, so it’s hard to gauge just where they are. Quarterback Sean Mannion has been lighting it up, completing more than 67 percent of his passes for 403.6 yards per game -- the No. 1 mark in the nation. The defense hasn’t been so efficient, however, allowing 31.6 points per game.

Nov. 9
At California
Record: 1-3, 0-1 Pac-12
Key team statistics
Total defense: 512.5 yards per game (No. 12 Pac-12, No. 119 overall)
Passing offense: 373 yards per game (No. 2 Pac-12, No. 4 overall)

Notes: It’s been a rough go for coach Sonny Dykes in his first year in Berkeley, as the team’s sole victory came against FCS-level Portland State. Cal was blasted by Oregon last Saturday 55-16, due in part to another less than stellar outing from a defense that ranks near the bottom of the conference in just about every statistical category. Freshman signal caller Jared Goff has showed promise, passing for 1,317 passing yards -- the No. 12 mark nationally -- but he appeared shell-shocked against the Ducks and was pulled in the first quarter.

Nov. 16
No. 5 Stanford
Record: 4-0, 2-0 Pac-12
Key team statistics
Rushing offense: 219.5 yards per game (No. 5 Pac-12, No. 31 overall)
Rushing defense: 105 yards per game (No. 3 Pac-12, No. 21 overall)

Notes: The 2012 conference champs, the Cardinal have been a thorn in the Trojans’ side as of late, taking five of the last six meetings. They’re currently in the midst of a 12-game winning streak. Featuring an imposing offensive line, a physical tailback corps and the Pac-12’s top-rated passer in Kevin Hogan, Stanford has been grinding it out on offense with typical efficiency. Defensively, linebacker Shayne Skov and Co. have been staunch, particularly against the run.

Nov. 23
At Colorado
Record: 2-1, 0-1 Pac-12
Key team statistics
Rushing offense: 115.7 yards per game (No. 10 Pac-12, No. 103 overall)
Passing defense: 300.3 yards per game (No. 12 Pac-12, No. 115 overall)

Notes: While Colorado has already doubled the team’s win total from 2012, it was exposed this past weekend in its first matchup with a formidable opponent, losing 44-17 to Oregon State. Quarterback Connor Wood and wide receiver Paul Richardson have certainly developed some solid chemistry, but the Buffs have failed to establish any element of a ground attack, and the defensive backfield has been exploited.

Nov. 30
No. 12 UCLA
Record: 3-0, 0-0 Pac-12
Key team statistics
Total offense: 614.3 yards per game (No. 1 Pac-12, No. 2 overall)
Scoring defense: 18 points per game (No. 4 Pac-12, No. 29 overall)

Notes: No matter what happens leading up to the Trojans’ clash with the Bruins, there will still be plenty on the line as USC will look to make a statement in the battle for Los Angeles. It won’t be easy though. UCLA head coach Jim Mora has the Bruins rolling right now, thanks to a prolific offense led by quarterback Brett Hundley, who ranks No. 11 nat8ionally in total offense (335 yards per game).

Johnny Curren

WeAreSC, Reporter

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