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  • Nick Norris

Can the Wildcats Defense Hang with the Trojans?

It seems as though Southern California and Arizona always play each other as if the season depends on it, even if it doesn’t. Some incredible football has been the result.

In seven of the last 10 games, neither team has won by more than a touchdown, and this year may be just as close if the Wildcats defense decides to show up.  

Former Southern Cal quarterback Sam Darnold staring down the Arizona D-line | Photo courtesy USC Athletics

Just because the final score is often close in this rivalry does not mean the victories are evenly distributed, however. USC almost always gets the win and leads the overall series 32-8. Arizona has only won twice in the last 10 years, most recently in 2012. In that game, USC receiver Marqise Lee led a valiant effort while setting the Pac-12 single-game record with an insane 345 yards receiving on 16 catches. It was not enough. Wildcats quarterback Matt Scott went off with four touchdowns—three through the air and one on the ground—and amassed 369 yards passing. But five turnovers by USC ultimately led to its 39-36 loss.

Marqise Lee had a career day – USC @ Arizona Football | Photo courtesy USC Athletics

This year, the teams enter the game with matching 2-2 records. Coach Clay Helton has yet to lose to Arizona in his first two seasons as USC’s head coach, outscoring the Wildcats 97-49. Arizona’s new coach Kevin Sumlin will attempt to change the course of this rivalry, but the defense raises concerns. Porous defenses have remained a consistent criticism of Sumlin’s past teams, and that storyline is certainly alive and well this week.

Former USC receiver Mike Williams leaps over a Wildcat defender | Photo courtesy USC Athletics

The Wildcats defense managed to find its legs last week in its 35-14 victory over Oregon State, but is it capable of stopping the Trojans? We’ll find out on Saturday in Tucson. H&A

Kickoff time for USC – Arizona is 9:30 CST on ESPN2

This article was originally posted by Hall & Arena.

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