Don’t take your eyes off
The offensive player wearing No. 4 for Washington State and the one wearing No. 14 for USC. Luke Falk and Sam Darnold are a few of the best passers in a Pac-12 Conference that has perhaps never had this much talent at the quarterback position. Falk has thrown for 1,378 yards, 14 touchdowns and just one interception this year, while Darnold’s passed for 1,225 yards, nine touchdowns and seven interceptions. So clearly the USC signal-caller isn’s quite as accurate as his WSU counterpart, but he’s very much the reason the Trojans have the nation’s second-longest winning streak at 13 games.
When WSU has the ball…
It’ll be a good sign for the Cougars if you don’t see a group of 300-pound behemoths doing up-downs on the sideline in the fourth quarter. WSU’s offensive linemen were punished in the second half of last week’s game against Nevada and got some mandatory cardio work in when they came off the field. The Cougars bring back one of the conference’s most talented offensive lines, but opponents have sacked Falk and Tyler Hilinski 14 times in four games.
When USC has the ball…
Will the Trojans trust the turnover-prone Darnold to air it out 40 times again or will they run Ronald Jones up the gut of one of the Pac-12’s toughest run-stopping defenses? Darnold’s interceptions have been well-chronicled this week and it looks like the USC redshirt sophomore will have to play without his second-leading receiver, Steven Mitchell Jr. The top receiver, Deontay Burnett, only learned Wednesday that his shoulder injury would not prevent him from playing against the Cougars. Still, how effective will he be?
Did you know?
Falk played the first meaningful snaps of his career in this very game three years ago. The Trojans and Cougars haven’t met since their 2014 date at Martin Stadium, when WSU starter Connor Halliday dropped to the turf with a broken leg and Falk, the former walk-on, relieved him. That was a gloomy day for the folks Pullman, but it also the start of a very bright career for the player who’d become WSU’s all-time leading passer.