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The pick: Why Washington State will beat USC

USC has won 87 percent (59 of 68) of games against Washington State that didn’t end in a tie. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)
USC has won 87 percent (59 of 68) of games against Washington State that didn’t end in a tie. (Tyler Tjomsland / The Spokesman-Review)

PULLMAN – Cougar fans have wretched memories of USC’s last trip to the Inland Northwest. In fact, rarely has a visit from the Trojans resulted in anything other than Washington State heartbreak.

OK, nearly every game between these two – regardless of the time, the date, the place or the tint of the jerseys worn that day – has gone awry for the Cougars.

USC has won 87 percent (59 of 68) of the ones that didn’t end in a tie and minus blips in 2013, 2002 and 2000, the Trojans have won every game played between these two this millennium. Most haven’t been particularly close, either. The last five USC victories: 44-17 in 2014, 50-16 in 2010, 27-6 in 2009, 69-0 in 2008 and 47-14 in 2007.

Don’t worry, the Cougars will do enough to keep fans interested past halftime Friday night and they’re capable of doing much more than that.

Let’s break it down.

The Trojans carry a No. 5 ranking and all the pressure that comes with it. They’ve done it well so far, but this USC team hasn’t yet been tested in front of a tough road crowd (sorry, Golden Bears) and the Trojans also haven’t left the state of California for a game since Week 10 last season. The Cougars rank pretty low on the SOS (strength of schedule) scale at the moment, but of USC’s four opponents, only Cal has a winning record. It’s a short week for both, but in theory that’s always tougher on the team that’s traveling – and no road trip in the Pac-12 is more awkward than the one to Pullman.

The Cougars have lost Peyton Pelluer for the season, but the Trojans will play this game without their top tight end, their top linebacker and their second-best receiver. And let’s see how healthy Deontay Burnett, who missed multiple practices this week with a shoulder injury, truly is.

The Trojans have a knack for slow starts, the Cougars have a knack for starting fast. USC’s QB has thrown seven picks, Wazzu’s has thrown one. The Trojans are some of the best in the country at robbing the ball from their opponents but the Cougars aren’t giving it away much.

It’s about time Mike Leach and Luke Falk get a marquee win, isn’t it?

The pick: WSU 38, USC 34

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