BY SPNW Staff 09:30AM 09/07/2013

Not the same old USC; what about Cougars?

Due to conference expansion and scheduling quirks, Washington State has not faced USC since 2010. The Cougars will be out to snap an eight-game losing streak to Troy.

Connor Halliday delivered his sixth career 300-yard passing performance in Washington State’s 31-24 loss at Auburn Saturday. / Greg Davis Photography

GAME: Washington State (0-1 overall, 0-0 Pac-12) at USC (1-0 overall, 0-0 Pac-12). WHEN: Saturday, 7:30 p.m., Memorial Coliseum. MEETING: 67th (USC leads 58-4-4). COACHES: Mike Leach, Washington State; Lane Kiffin, USC. RANKINGS: USC 25 AP, 22 USA/Coaches; Cougars not ranked. LINE: USC by 15½. TV: Fox Sports 1. RADIO: KTTH 770 AM.

Washington State enters Saturday night’s match-up at USC a heavy underdog, though players aren’t acting like it. That some are giving the Cougars a chance to upset a nationally-ranked Trojans team is a historic happening in itself. The Cougars last defeated the Trojans in Los Angeles in 2000.

The Cougars out-played Auburn last week during much of their 31-24 road loss, but three interceptions from Connor Halliday and a pair of lapses — one on special teams, and another on defense — ultimately derailed their shot at an unexpected win.

Despite WSU’s dreary history against the Trojans, there are reasons to think they can compete well this weekend.

These aren’t the typical, dominant USC Trojans. Head coach Lane Kiffin still has much to prove and has been indecisive choosing a quarterback. Cody Kessler started in USC’s ugly 30-13 win last week against Hawaii, but played nervously, finishing 10 of 19 for 95 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

Kiffin chose to play musical chairs, inserting Max Wittek, who played unimpressively. He went five of 10 for 77 yards but didn’t throw a touchdown or a pick.

Kiffin said Sunday he has chosen a starter but refused to tell reporters, citing his desire to keep both away from media scrutiny. A source earlier this week told the Los Angeles Times that USC would use the same strategy it did against Hawaii, starting Kessler but replacing him if he struggles.

Even with their depth thinned by NCAA sanctions from the Pete Carroll era, the Trojans are nonetheless ultra-talented. WR Marqise Lee posted video-game numbers in 2012, finishing with 118 receptions, 1,721 yards and 14 TDs. Last week against Hawaii, he caught eight passes for 104 yards. Lee presents an dilemma for a WSU team that may be without S Anthony Carpenter and CB Nolan Washington.

Also concerning for WSU is the return of USC DE Morgan Breslin (13 sacks in 2012), who missed the season opener against the Warriors with what most thought was a lower leg injury (USC doesn’t comment on injuries). That didn’t keep the Trojans from sacking Hawaii’s quarterback seven times.

The Cougars, who last week tempered Auburn’s pass rush in allowing two sacks, will have to limit Breslin’s impact because QB Connor Halliday has been ineffective when forced to throw on the run.

SERIES: Dates to Dec. 3, 1921, when USC recorded a 28-7 victory at Pasadena. Due to conference expansion, the teams have not met since 2010. Cougars have dropped their last eight meetings with the Trojans, the last WSU victory coming in 2002 in Pullman (30-27 in OT). WSU’s last win in Los Angeles came in 2000 (33-27). Washington State’s last win over a ranked opponent occurred in 2006 when the Cougars defeated No. 16 Oregon in Pullman, 34-23.

WSU HEAD COACH: Mike Leach (87-53 overall, 3-10 WSU): Hired Nov. 30, 2011 to replace Paul Wulff, who went 9-40 in four seasons, Leach’s 2012 Cougars led the Pac-12 in passing at 330.4 yards per game and finished the season by beating Washington in the Apple Cup. In 10 seasons at Texas Tech (2000-09), Leach earned 10 bowl bids. The Susanville, CA., native, who was raised in Cody, WY., recorded a school-record 84 victories. Leach’s offenses led the nation in passing six times and three times accumulated the most total yards. In 2009, the Red Raiders finished second in passing offense and fourth in total offense, both marks tops among BCS conference schools. Prior to Texas Tech, Leach spent one season as the offensive coordinator at Oklahoma (1999). That year, the Sooners set six Big 12 and 17 school records.

WSU STATS / NOTES

  • 2012 SEASON SUMMARY: Record: 0-1. Home: 0-0. Road: 0-1. Neutral: 0-0. Vs. Pac-12: 0-0. Vs. Pac-12 North: 0-0. Vs. Pac-12 South: 0-0. Vs. Non-Conference: 0-1.
  • Points For: 24 (24.0). Rushing Yards Per Game: 120.0. Passing Yards Per Game: 344.0. Total Offense Per Game: 464.0.
  • Points Against: 31 (31.0). Opp. Rushing Yards Per Game: 297.0. Opp. Passing Yards Per Game: 99.0. Total Defense Per Game: 396.0.
  • Pac-12 Ranks: Scoring Offense — 9th (24.0); Scoring Defense — 7th (31.0); Total Offense — 6th (464.0); Total Defense — 6th (396.0); Rushing Offense — 7th (120.0); Rushing Defense 10th (297.0); Pass Offense — 4th (344.0); Pass Defense — 1st (99.0); Pass Efficiency — 10th (94.15).
  • Senior safety Deone Bucannon had a team-high 14 tackles against Auburn and now ranks sixth in his WSU career in solo tackles with 202.
  • Kicker Andrew Furney picked up where he left off last season, hitting from 44 yards at Auburn. That pushed his career made field goal total to 32 and moved him into a tie for fourth place with Rian Lindell for the most makes in program history.
  • Quarterback Connor Halliday opened the 2013 season by going 35-of-65 for 344 yards, the second-most pass attempts in WSU single-game history trailing only Drew Bledsoe’s 66 pass attempts against Montana in 1992. Halliday also recorded his sixth career 300-yard performance, tying for third-most in school history with Timm Rosenbach and Jason Gesser.
  • Washington State rushed for 120 yards and two touchdowns at Auburn, its highest rushing total since posting 125 at Oregon in 2011.
  • WSU’s roster contains 24 players from southern California with five claiming Los Angeles as their hometown, including sophomore WR Gabe Marks and sophomore RB/kick returner Teondray Caldwell, who starred together at Venice High School. Redshirt senior defensive back Anthony Carpenter and sophomore BUCK linebacker Kache Palacio both played with USC wideout Marqise Lee at Serra High School.

COUGARS OFFENSIVE LEADERS

Rushing

Player G Att. Yards TDs Long Y/G
T. Caldwell 1 7 53 0 24 53.0
Marcus Mason 1 6 43 0 17 43.0
C. Halliday 1 5 14 0 11 14.0
Jere Laufasa 1 5 10 2 7 10.0
Team Total 1 23 120 2 24 120.0

Passing

Player G Att. Cmp. Yards TDs/INT Effic.
C. Halliday 1 65 35 344 1/3 94.15
Team Total 1 65 35 344 1/3 94.15

Receiving

Player G Rec. Yards TD Long Y/G
Gabe Marks 1 9 81 0 14 81.0
Rickey Galvin 1 5 43 0 13 43.0
K. Williams 1 4 42 0 12 42.0
Bobby Ratliff 1 3 66 1 53 66.0
D. Williams 1 3 43 0 29 43.0
R. Cracraft 1 3 14 0 8 14.0
Team Total 1 35 344 1 53 344.0

COUGARS DEFENSIVE LEADERS

Category Skinny
Tackles Bucannon 14, Monroe 6, Sagote 5
Sacks Monroe 1.0
Interceptions No interceptions made
Passes Defensed N. Washington 1
Forced Fumbles Bucannon, Taliulu, both 1
Fumbles Recovered Bucannon 1

Pac-12 Standings / North

Schools Overall Conf. Next
Oregon 1-0 0-0 Sat, at Virginia
Washington 1-0 0-0 Sept. 14 at Illinois
Oregon St. 0-1 0-0 Sat, vs. Hawaii
California 0-1 0-0 Sat, vs. Portland St.
WSU 0-1 0-0 Sat, at USC
Stanford 0-1 0-0 Sat, vs. San Jose St.

Pac-12 Standings / South

Schools Overall Conf. Next
UCLA 1-0 0-0 Sept. 14 at Nebraska
Colorado 1-0 0-0 Sat, vs. Cent. Arkansas
Arizona 1-0 0-0 Sat, at UNLV
USC 1-0 0-0 Sat, vs. WSU
Utah 1-0 0-0 Sat, vs. Weber St.
Arizona St. 1-0 0-0 Sept. 14 vs. Wisconsin

USC NOTES: USC opened the season with a 30-13 win at Hawaii. Justin Davis ran 74 yards for a touchdown, star receiver Marqise Lee had eight catches for 104 yards, and the Trojan defense intercepted four Hawaii passes . . . Lane Kiffin is in his fourth season as head coach of the Trojans. In his first three seasons, Kiffin was 25-13 (.658) and a 32-19 (.627) overall mark as a college head coach . . . The USC roster features four players from the state of Washington: Max Brown, QB, Skyline; Alex Wood, PK, Mercer Island; Zach Banner, OT, Lakes; Michael Maguire, DE, Sammamish.

Washington State 2013 Schedule/Results

Date Opponent WSU Rnk Opp Rnk W/L Score Rec.
8/31/13 at Auburn L 31-24 0-1
9/7/13 at USC 25 —– —–
9/14/13 vs. So. Utah —– —–
9/21/13 vs. Idaho —– —–
9/28/13 vs. Stanford 4 —– —–
10/5/13 at Cal —– —–
10/12/13 vs. OSU —– —–
10/19/13 at Oregon 2 —– —–
10/31/13 vs. ASU —– —–
11/16/13 at Arizona —– —–
11/23/13 vs. Utah —– —–
11/29/13 at Wash 20

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