Pac-12 Preview: USC at Utah Thursday

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The Pac-12 week begins on a Thursday again this week with USC playing at Utah tonight at 6 p.m. on ESPN. USC won 23-14 last season, with this year’s meeting crucial for either team to win the Pac-12 south division.

Oregon State is home this weekend for the first time in nearly a month, hosting Washington State (1 p.m. – 960 the Sports Legend). The No. 14 Beavers are 3-0 in three games decided by an average of four points.

Head coach Mike Riley

Last week’s win was Riley’s 75th all-time at OSU, the most by any coach at the school.

This Week In The Pac-12

USC (3-1) at UTAH (2-2)
Thurs., Oct. 4, 7 p.m. MT – ESPN
WASH leads, 7-3-0. Last game: USC, 23-14 (2011)

First appearance for USC in Salt Lake City since Nov. 17, 1917 when it defeated Utah 51-0. . . Since 1955, USC is 54-16-1 following byes. Utah is 27-8-1 (22-2-1 at home) in October games played after a bye. . . With the USC game already sold out, the Utes have sold out 15-straight games in Rice-Eccles Stadium.

Junior WR Robert Woods is tied for fourth on USC’s career receiving list with 201 receptions. The top three are Dwayne Jarrett (216), Keary Colbert (207), and Kareem Kelly (204).

If USC scores at Utah, it will tie the school record for most consecutive games without being shut out. USC has not been shut out in its past 185 games, 1 shy of the school record of 186 set from 1967 to 1983 (14 wins and 1 loss later vacated due to NCAA penalty). USC’s last shutout loss was in 1997 at Washington, 27-0. Interestingly, if USC scores this week at Utah, the opportunity for that record-breaking 187th game would be next week at Washington.

Utah’s defense ranks fourth in the league in total defense (329.5 yards per game). Utah is ranked fourth in the Pac-12 and 27th in the nation in rushing defense (111.25). Senior P Sean Sellwood ranks second nationally with a 47.8 yard average.

Dating back to last season, Utah is 9-0 when senior RB John White rushes for 100 yards. USC is fifth in the Pac-12 against the run (117.0).

ARIZONA (3-2) at STANFORD (3-1)
Sat., Oct. 6, 12 noon PT – FOX
ARIZ leads, 14-13-0. Last game: STAN, 37-10 (2011)

Stanford is one of the least penalized teams in the league, committing just 5.3 penalties per game for an average of 37.5 yards per game. Meanwhile, Arizona leads the league by forcing its opponents into 10.2 penalties per game for 101.6 yards per game.

Arizona senior QB Matt Scott threw for a career-high 403 yards Saturday. He has thrown for 1,608 yards this season in just five games. If he meets his season average of 321.6 yards against Stanford, his season passing yardage total would already rank him 13th on Arizona’s single-season list. . . Sophomore RB Ka’Deem Carey kept his rushing average over 100 yards per game with a 115-yard effort against Oregon State and leads an Arizona ground attack that averages 194.4 yards per game. The Wildcats now face a Stanford squad that allows just 65.2 rushing yards per game.

Stanford’s secondary has given up just two touchdown passes in four games with the Cardinal defense picking off the opposition seven times. Junior FS Ed Reynolds leads Stanford with three interceptions.

Stanford senior RB Stepfan Taylor had a string of 58 consecutive rushes without being stopped for a loss snapped when Washington stopped him for a 4-yard loss on his 20th carry of the game. Taylor’s 15 100-yard games ranks third on Stanford’s all-time list behind only Toby Gerhart (20) and Darrin Nelson (16).

WASHINGTON STATE (2-3) at OREGON STATE (3-0)
Sat., Oct. 6, 3 p.m. PT – P12N
WSU leads, 48-45-3. Last game: OSU, 44-21 (2011)

Two of the nation’s top passing attacks will be on display when Oregon State and Washington State square off on Saturday. The Beavers have racked up 362.7 passing yards per game to top the Pac-12 (4th in the FBS), while Washington State’s spread offense has yielded 333.3 passing yards per game, a figure that ranks third in the Pac-12 (12th FBS). . . In last week’s loss to Oregon, Washington State sophomore QB Connor Halliday tossed 60 passes for the second straight game and threw for 348 yards. He has passed for over 300 yards in three straight games. . . Oregon State sophomore QB Sean Mannion threw for a career-high 433 yards in the 38-35 win Saturday at Arizona.

Mike Riley became Oregon State’s career victory leader with 75 wins.

Washington State junior WR Marquess Wilson hauled in a career-high 12 receptions for 182 yards. He became WSU’s career leader with 2,893 yards. . . Oregon State senior WR Markus Wheaton collected 166 receiving yards vs. Arizona and now averages 134.3 yards per game, just behind sophomore teammate Brandin Cooks who is averaging a Pac-12 leading 134.7 yards per game.

UCLA (4-1) at CALIFORNIA (1-4)
Sat., Oct. 6, 7 p.m. PT – P12N
UCLA leads, 50-31-1. Last game: UCLA, 31-14 (2011)

UCLA Senior RB Johnathan Franklin rushed for 111 yards at Colorado for his 14th career 100-yard rushing game. Fifth place on UCLA’s all-time list (Gaston Green, 1984-87, is No. 1 with 20). . . UCLA redshirt freshman QB Brett Hundley has a 150.6 passing efficiency rating and has guided a Bruin offense that has completed passes to 11 different receivers in each of the last three games.

UCLA owns a league-leading 85.7 touchback percentage, as 30 of the Bruins’ 35 kickoffs this season have sailed into (or out of the back of) the end zone.

Junior WR Keenan Allen now has 177 career receptions. That total ranks fourth all-time at Cal and is three shy of Bobby Shaw’s third-place total of 180. He also has 2,221 career receiving yards, which ranks seventh all-time at Cal (Marvin Jones is sixth with 2,270 career receiving yards).

Senior RB Isi Sofele posted his seventh career 100-yard rushing game with 105 yards against ASU, which ranks 10th all-time in Cal history. He now has 2,075 career rushing yards.

WASHINGTON (3-1) at OREGON (5-0)
Sat., Oct. 6, 7:30 p.m. PT – ESPN
WASH leads, 58-41-5. Last game: ORE, 34-17 (2011)

Oregon leads the Pac-12 and is fourth in the FBS, averaging 52.4 points per game. In each of its last five conference victories, Oregon has averaged 50.2 points per game.

For the third time this season, Washington will be facing an opponent ranked in the Top 10 when it meets No. 2 Oregon.

Washington’s defense limited Stanford to 65 net yards rushing in its 17-13 win over the Cardinal. The Husky defense is allowing just 19.8 ppg (4th in Pac-12). It was 11th last year at 35.9 ppg. It now faces an Oregon team that averages a Pac-12 best 303.0 rushing yards per game (6th in FBS) and 52.4 ppg.

Washington sophomore RB Bishop Sankey rushed for more than 100 yards in the second straight game with 144 yards in the win over Stanford. Stanford had given up 124 rushing yards combined in its previous three games.