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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.