No. 17 USC hosts No. 23 Arizona for Pac-12 South lead
No. 23 Arizona (6-2, 4-1 Pac-12, CFP No. 22) at No. 17 Southern California (7-2, 5-1, CFP No. 17) 10:45 p.m. (ESPN)
Line: USC by 7 ½.
Series record: USC leads 32-8.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Control of the Pac-12 South race goes to the winner of the annual meeting between the powerhouse Trojans and the surprising Wildcats, who have strung together four straight wins to emerge as USC’s biggest threat. While the Trojans essentially have been knocked out of the national title race by road losses to Washington State and Notre Dame, they’ve won 14 straight at the Coliseum.
Arizona QB Khalil Tate vs. USC LB Cameron Smith. The Wildcats’ breakout star is an Inglewood native and a product of Serra High School, which also produced current USC WR Deontay Burnett and recent Trojans stars Robert Woods, Adoree Jackson and Marqise Lee. Tate is third in the nation with 154.3 yards rushing per game. Leading tackler Smith will lead the Trojans’ group effort to stop him.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Arizona: DB Dane Cruikshank. The versatile defensive back from the same town as Lonzo Ball has filled several important roles on the Wildcats’ defense, and they’ll need him against USC’s vaunted passing offense.
USC: RB Ronald Jones II. The Trojans have seemed to abandon their running game at times, but the speedy tailback racked up 216 yards in their romp at Arizona State last week. He remains a fearsome talent who would be an offensive focal point on other teams.
FACTS & FIGURES
Tate made his first career start against USC last year, but the Wildcats were trounced 48-14. ... Arizona hasn’t beaten USC since 2012, coach Rich Rodriguez’s debut season. USC has won 13 of the schools’ last 15 meetings. ... QB Sam Darnold is up to eighth on the Trojans’ career completions list and ninth in total offense. He has declined to address widespread speculation that he plans to return to school next season instead of heading to the NFL. ... Arizona went 4-0 in October for the first time since 1992, capped by last week’s win over Washington State. That was the Wildcats’ first victory over a ranked team since 2015. ... Tate has been the Pac-12′s offensive player of the week for four straight weeks.