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Thursday, October 25, 2012
Five Storylines: USC-Arizona

By Garry Paskwietz

The five key storylines as No. 9 USC (6-1 overall, 4-1 Pac 12) takes on Arizona (4-3, 1-3) in a Pac-12 showdown.

1. USC defense vs. Arizona spread offense: On paper, this will be the toughest offensive opponent the Trojans have faced this year. The Wildcats have taken quickly to new head coach Rich Rodriguez’s hurry-up spread offense and the results have been impressive, with almost 550 total yards of offense per game. It will be up to the Trojans' swarming and attacking defense to pressure the quarterback and look for turnovers or stops.

2. Arizona QB Matt Scott vs. USC cornerbacks: To break down the previous point even further, the key battle within the battle will be Scott throwing the ball against a USC cornerback position that has been in flux. Nickell Robey has been solid on one side, but there has been a rotation opposite him, with either Torin Harris or Josh Shaw appearing to be the primary options. The Trojans will probably need both against the quick pace of the Wildcats offense.

3. USC offensive patience: When the Trojans offense is in rhythm it can produce consistent results, but there have been times this year when that flow has been hard to find. USC is coming off an offensive explosion against an overwhelmed Colorado defense and it will be important to maintain that momentum against Arizona. If it isn’t there right away, the Trojans will need to be patient because every possession is likely to count in this game.

4. Barkley’s Heisman momentum: With his record-breaking performance last week, Matt Barkley moved back into the Heisman conversation. He’s not the favorite or anything like that, but people are mentioning him again in the conversation, and that’s good enough for now. As far as his candidacy goes, Barkley just needs to play well and guide his team to a win in this game. If he does that, there will be other opportunities ahead to really make his case.

5. Lane Kiffin vs. Rich Rodriguez: In a conference full of varied offensive minds, this will look to be an interesting match-up between two of the most well-discussed coaches in college football.