Arizona vs. USC: Wildcats Fall 48-41

The Arizona Wildcats have three injured wide receivers in Austin Hill, Juron Criner and Dan Buckner. All are questionable for Saturday's game against the USC Trojans.

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Arizona vs. USC Final Score: Wildcats Show Heart In 48-41 Defeat

After a dismal first half of play, the Arizona Wildcats battled back and made it a game against the USC Trojans. Unfortunately, the stellar performances from Nick Foles and Kadeem Carey were not enough to get UA over the hump as the 'Cats fell to 1-4 on the season.

After surrendering two interceptions in the first quarter, Foles threw for 425 yards and four touchdowns against a talented USC secondary. Kadeem Carey may have had just 34 rushing yards on 12 carries, but the freshman running back recorded two touchdowns on the ground and even hauled in three passes, one of which was good for a touchdown as well.

The wide receivers certainly benefitted from the shootout and nine Wildcats hauled in three passes or more. Twelve total players made a catch on Saturday, which is likely an all-time record. Carey, Austin Hill, Taimi Tutogi, and Juron Criner all recorded touchdowns, while Dan Bucker and David Douglas each had six receptions.

The offense -- well, the offense after the first four drives of the game -- certainly wasn't the problem on Saturday. It was the defense.

Matt Barkley threw for a school-record 468 yards and completed four passes for touchdowns. Curtis McNeal had 74 yards on just seven carries and scored a touchdown in the fourth quarter to essentially end the game.

The true star for the Trojans was wide receiver Robert Woods, who hauled in 14 passes for 255 yards and two touchdowns. He broke an 82-yard pass-and-catch on the second play of the game to begin his record-setting day.

Until the Wildcats can improve their pass coverage, this team is going to struggle to win games. Give credit to the offense to not giving up and making a game of it, but in the end, it was too little too late for UA. This seems to be a recurring theme in the last 12 months for the football program. 

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Arizona vs. USC Score: Nick Foles Throws Two Interceptions, Defense Struggling As USC Leads 27-12

The Arizona Wildcats started off the game well. Then USC got the football and it was all downhill from there.

After a somewhat promising drive from UA stalled -- a drive that included three run plays to begin the game -- USC took over control of the football and had their way. The Trojans picked apart the Arizona defense for the entire first quarter and the score was 17-0 at the conclusion. 

Matt Barkley hit Robert Woods for an 82-yard touchdown pass on the second play of the game. After a Nick Foles interception and Trojan field goal, Barkley connected with Marqise Lee for a 38-yard touchdown of his own.

Arizona managed a solid drive as the game neared blowout-status and converted a red zone opportunity with a four-yard touchdown pass from Foles to Taimi Tutogi. Alex Zendejas missed the extra point.

After another impressive USC touchdown drive -- one where the team went 4-for-4 on third down opportunities -- that saw Barkley hit Xavier Grimble for a TD reception. The score was 24-6 midway through the second quarter.

The 'Cats battled back once again and Foles capped off four-play, 60-yard touchdown drive with a 27-yard pass to star freshman Kadeem Carey. Alex Zendejas' kick was blocked (of course).

USC managed a field goal on their final possession of the half. With the Trojans getting the football at the start of the 2nd half, Arizona will have to come up with multiple turnovers if they hope to win this game.

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Arizona vs. USC: Three Keys And A Prediction For Pac-12 Showdown

The Arizona Wildcats are going to have to play error-free football if they hope to pull the upset on the road against the USC Trojans. That means no turnovers, no foolish penalties, no trips inside the red zone that do not result in points and no blown defensive coverages.

It won't be easy for Mike Stoops, Nick Foles, Trevin Wade and UA, but if they execute properly and perhaps come away with a little luck, a victory in Pasadena is not out of the question.

Protect Nick Foles:

Foles was sacked 10 times in the last two weeks by Stanford and Oregon for a loss of 99 yards. Compile these sack with the numerous hits he takes on a weekly basis and Arizona now has a quarterback starting to show signs of wearing down. If the 'Cats don't provide protection up front for Nick Foles -- as well as get a strong push for Keola Antolin and Kadeem Carey to effectively run the ball -- the game will be over by halftime.

Containing The Matt Barkley - Robert Woods Connection

In 15 career starts for sophomore wide receiver Robert Woods, he and quarterback Matt Barkley have connected for 10 touchdowns. That's an absurd number for a player as young as Woods.

Trevin Wade will likely cover Woods the entire game for the 'Cats and he needs to ensure Woods is not able to break away down the field for big gains. If he beats us on a fade-route to the corner of the end zone, UA can live with that. What they cannot live with is a 60-yard bomb down the field that results in quick points for the Trojans. 

The Run Game:

After an ugly start to the season, Arizona has slowly shown signs of progression with their rushing attack. Keola Antolin and Kadeem Carey have both increased their yards-per-carry numbers in the last two games and the 'full-house' formation UA employed against Oregon appeared to have potential.

If the 'Cats can establish a solid run game early, it benefits all parties involved. It takes pressure off Foles and UA's wide receivers, the defense, and (most importantly!) the fans, who are desperate for a big game on the ground.

Final Predictions:

Matchups in the last three of four years between Arizona and USC have typically gone against what most 'experts' envisioned. That being said, it's tough to see the Wildcats coming away with a road victory, especially with multiple starters on defense ailing from injuries. The addition of Adam Hall will help, but in the end, the Trojans come away with a 35-17 victory and the 'Cats fall to 1-4 on the season.

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Arizona vs. USC: Television Coverage, Online Stream, Radio Broadcast And More

This week's matchup between the Arizona Wildcats and USC Trojans is a big game for both programs. Each team is coming off a tough loss and a conference victory would go a long way in getting back on the right track. The Trojans figure to have a relatively easy time with the injury-stricken Wildcats, but these two teams have a history of intense, closely contested games in recent years.

Here is all of the game day information you will need to get setup for the showdown:

Kickoff: 3:30 EDT / 12:30 PDT

Venue: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Previous Meetings: USC won 24-21 in their matchup in 2010. The Wildcats won 21-17 when the two teams met in Pasadena back in 2009.

Television Coverage: Fox Sports Net; check local listings.

Radio: 1290 AM The Fan

Online Stream: The game will not be streamed by ESPN3, though there are alternatives to check for.

It is tough to imagine Arizona coming away with a road victory after being demolished in back-to-back-to-back weeks by Oklahoma State, Stanford and Oregon, but stranger things have happened. If Nick Foles has protection in the pocket and the 'Cats can contain Matt Barkley, they have a chance to pull the upset.

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Arizona vs. USC: 'Cats Looking To Improve Protection Of Nick Foles

When he has time in the pocket, Nick Foles is able to dominate a game with his big, accurate throwing arm. He can make any throw, hit any receiver in stride, and even can scramble for a few yards from time to time. 

Unfortunately for Foles and the Arizona Wildcats, the quarterback has had anything but protection in the pocket this season and his body has paid for it. As Ryan Finley tells us, UA wants (and needs) to improve their blocking up front:

Foles has been sacked 12 times this season, including 10 times in the last two games, for a loss of 99 yards. He's been hurried at least a dozen more times.

Despite the pounding, Foles - who has refused numerous media requests since last weekend's loss - is expected to be under center when the Wildcats travel to USC on Saturday.

"He's a tough guy, and he leads by example," left tackle Mickey Baucus said. "He's the toughest guy on the field after taking some of those hits."

"Seeing that, it kills me inside," center Kyle Quinn added.

There isn't too much the Wildcats can do other than simply improving their blocking up front. The team already uses a bevy of quick-hits and screen passes in their offensive scheme and they have placed an emphasis on running the ball in recent weeks. Outside of sitting a fullback in the backfield with Foles on every passing play, there isn't too much else that can be done.

Simply put, the offensive line needs to step up this weekend and in every other game this season. Foles' body will not be able to withstand multiple sacks and countless hits on a weekly basis.

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Arizona vs. USC: Wildcats May Increase Usage Of 'Full-House' Formation

There were not too many positives to take away from the game against Oregon last weekend, but one of them had to be the improved running game against a stout defense. While the offensive line did do a slightly better job of opening holes for both Keola Antolin and Kadeem Carey to run through, a new formation paved the way for quite a few yards. 

It's called the 'full-house' formation, and the Wildcats appear to be leaning towards using it more this season. Here's how it looks:

Quarterback Nick Foles lines up in the shotgun, flanked by fullback Taimi Tutogi and tight end Drew Robinson. A tailback lines up behind Foles, as in the Pistol formation. Tutogi often went in motion behind Foles to get a running start toward the line of scrimmage as he and Robinson tried to open holes.

Arizona put two receivers out wide, looking for single coverage somewhere if defenses committed a safety to stopping the run. If not, then Arizona has seven blockers for seven defenders - and the tailback has to make a play.

It may not be the most original idea, but after struggling to consistently run the football effectively in their first three games, UA should be open to just about anything that may work. If it means having three players in the backfield along with Nick Foles, go for it. The team may just find some continued success from the change in formation.

For more on Arizona football, AZ Desert Swarm is the place to go.

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Arizona Wildcats Safety Adam Hall Nearing Return To Field

After allowing 130 points in the last three weeks to Oklahoma State, Stanford, and Oregon, the Arizona Wildcats defensive unit is going to be getting one of their better defensive players back: Adam Hall. The sophomore safety has missed the first four games of the season and most of training camp with an ACL injury he suffered during the spring.

From Wildcats Rapid Reports we get this information:

S Adam Hall, recovering from a spring ACL injury, has an outside chance to play sparingly at USC in the nickel defense or in long-yardage situations, coach Mike Stoops said. Hall's more likely return is Oct. 8 at Oregon State. He made 54 tackles last season and would be a needed defensive playmaker.

The month of September has been brutal on UA and the reemergence of Hall will at least provide some hope for the remainder of the season. While he likely won't play too many snaps against USC, having him back on the field and preparing for a start the following week against Oregon State is a good sign.

The Wildcats have shown slight signs of improvement and their schedule gets much easier after the road test against the Trojans. A strong second half could propel the program into a bowl game, even if it seems unlikely at this point.

For more on the Arizona Wildcats, check out AZ Desert Swarm.

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Arizona Wildcats Injury Report: WRs Juron Criner, Austin Hill, Dan Buckner Banged Up

The Arizona Wildcats have three injured wide receivers in Austin Hill, Juron Criner and Dan Buckner. All are questionable for Saturday's game against the USC Trojans.

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