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Names to know

Kevin Ellison USC strong safety

The USC defense is well-known for players such as linebackers Rey Maualuga and Brian Cushing and free safety Taylor Mays. But Ellison has outplayed them all this year, leading the Trojans in tackles with 40, including 2.5 for loss. Last season’s All-Pac-10 selection also has an interception and six pass breakups. “He’s a very productive football player, and he’s going to be a kid who, I’m sure, will be able to move on and play,” said WSU coach Paul Wulff.

Tyrone Justin WSU cornerback

The redshirt freshman from Culver City, Calif., has improved nearly every week since Oklahoma State’s Dez Bryant continually rose above him to catch passes in the Cowboys’ 39-13 win. Justin hasn’t grown – he’s 5-foot-11 and 157 pounds – but coaches say his technique has improved and he’s defending bigger receivers better, leading to three pass breakups, the second-best mark on the team. He and the rest of the secondary will be challenged today.

C.J. Gable USC running back

With Joe McKnight sidelined by a bad toe, Gable takes over the lead spot in the Trojans’ running-back-by-committee attack. The sophomore not only has 189 yards rushing (he’s led USC in rushing in two games), second to McKnight, but he also returns kickoffs (three for 53 yards) and is a competent receiver (five catches for 42 yards). It was Gable who got USC off on the right foot this season, with 73 yards – including a 33-yard scoring burst – against Virginia.